I Do Not Have a Problem

They say that the first step to kicking addiction is recognizing that you have a problem, however when I looked up twelve-step programs it turns out that the first step is actually admitting that you are powerless and that your life has become unmanageable. I use this as my first piece of evidence that I am not addicted to Candy Crush Saga because I am able to resist playing it —now, for instance— and when I’m asleep. Plus, I can still hold down a job.

Step Two is believing that a power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity. That power, I would offer, comes in many forms. For some, it is Gaia, the earth/mother deity, or an old man with a white beard in the sky called God; for others, it’s Vishnu, a multi-armed blue man dressed in flowing orange robes. Given that the maker of Candy Crush Saga is a company called King, and king is a euphemism for god, I would argue that I’m not addicted to Candy Crush Saga because it is made by a higher power, which can restore me to sanity. In fact, I’m doing the lord’s work just by playing.

I find this especially true after a stressful day at work. When I take my seat on the bus and whip out my phone to play Candy Crush Saga, my nerves instantly calm. Aligning those primary-colored shapes until they explode with sweet goodness calms my nerves and makes me forget the ball of snakes that I’ve spent the day unwinding. Playing Candy Crush Saga feels better than drinking a glass of wine, although the two together on a Friday night (or any night, really) are unbeatable. Other than more lives to play Candy Crush Saga, what else could a person need?

In order to advance in the program, twelve-steppers must turn their will and lives over to the care of said higher power, which is especially easy for me, since we’ve established that I don’t have a problem. Even if I did, King would take good care of me, so I am fine with turning my life over to Candy Crush Saga. In fact, to prove that I don’t have a problem with resigning my will to King, I will pause here to play a game.

Crap—I am never getting past Level 86!

After the first two tasks, the twelve-step program requires that I make a searching and fearless moral inventory of my life, which is pretty easy when I consider it through the lens of Candy Crush Saga. Sure, there have been mis-steps. How many times have I sacrificed a conversation for playing just one more round of Candy Crush Saga? How often have I passively watched the latest episode of Game of Thrones just so that I can make it to the next level? How many times have I let my boyfriend prepare an entire meal while I lazed on the couch playing game after game until I exhausted all of my lives?

Clearly, King is asking me to try harder, to be better at this game, otherwise why would it encourage me to keep playing? Every time I run out of lives and that pink timeclock counts down to my next available turn, I feel agitated, antsy, borderline homicidal. Thirty minutes is too long to wait! My lesson learned from Step Four is that I must apply myself. I vow never to give up on Candy Crush Saga, no matter how many times or friends I lose. If they were really my friends, they’d understand.

Ooo—new life! Hold that thought.

Okay, I’m back. Still on Level 86. Talk about being crushed.

To save time, I recommend combining Steps Five, Six and Seven, since they involve admitting the exact nature of my wrongs to god, myself and someone else, then letting god know that that I’m ready to have these faults removed, then asking god to remove them. From a time management standpoint, this is wasteful. Think of how many games of Candy Crush Saga I could play in the time I bustle back and forth between admitting, thinking and asking!

I say we simplify: let’s go to god once and make it a three-fer. And, honestly, I’d get rid of that third party. If something’s not right in my life, like I can’t get past Level 86 of Candy Crush Saga, whose business is that? In fact, my real problem isn’t so much Candy Crush Saga overtaking my life, but that I don’t have enough turns in order to clear all of the jelly in Level 86, and heck if I’m going to admit that to anyone else! Thus, I’m skipping straight to Step Seven. Dear King, I beseech thee: remove this obstacle. Help me clear all of the jelly in 35 moves, and dammit, I am not paying you $.99 to get more lives.

Alright. Time for Step Eight: make a list of all persons harmed and be willing to make amends. This is also proof that I don’t have a problem because I haven’t really hurt anyone by playing Candy Crush Saga. If my coworkers are setting up a GoTo meeting and there’s an extra minute when no one needs me, are they harmed if I play Candy Crush Saga? If yoga class hasn’t begun and I want to play one more round before we all chant Om, are my yogamates injured? (I have the sound off, after all.) And when I’m stopped at a light, I’d argue that there’s nothing else to do but play a partial round of Candy Crush Saga. I always put my phone down before tapping on the gas.

Okay, Step Nine: make amends. Another opportunity for streamlining. Why not make a list of wrongs, and while I’m at it, just say sorry? Although, in my case, I don’t have a problem and I haven’t done anything that warrants an apology. Say, it looks like I have another life available; I’ll be back in a sec.

Argh! Damn you, Level 86!!

It might seem that I’m distracted while writing this post, and maybe you’re waiting for me to beg your forgiveness, but I can tell that you’re texting or looking at Facebook or whatever, and you’re actually ignoring me. I was just playing Candy Crush Saga because you were doing something else, so in this case, I don’t need to apologize. This does not count as Step Nine.

(Technically, I’m supposed to continue to take personal inventory and admit when I’m wrong, but I’m not. I don’t have a problem, and I’m not putting down my phone until you put down yours, and not a minute before.)

Sigh. You’re right. I’m sorry, too. I think we’d understand each other better if you would download Candy Crush Saga. I resisted for a long time, too, but see how great it is? Once you start to align those red licorice pieces and shiny yellow pears, you’ll know what I mean. Here, try mine. First shoot for three in a row, and you’ll feel good, but then see what happens when you get four in a row (power up, girl!) and then five (sparkly crystal ball blasts away everything!)

While you’re downloading the app (free in the iTunes app store, but watch out for that $.99 upcharge), let’s move on to Step Eleven: seek to improve conscious thought with god through prayer and meditation, praying for knowledge of his will and the power to carry it out. Snap! I do that every night. Just before I go to sleep, I pray, Dear King, how many more lives will I waste trying to best Level 86? I’ve made it through levels that I thought I’d play forever, like those expanding chocolate blocks, but I can’t seem to get past this one. I’ve been on Level 86 for, like, three and a half weeks. Please give me the power without making me pay the $.99. I know I can do it on my own. Please King, help me just this once, and I won’t ask for anything again.

(Eight… seven… six… five… four… three… two…) Free life! Hang on just a sec.

Okay, I’m back. Still stuck on &*%$# Level 86!! Step Eleven is clearly not working. I’ll pray harder next time. No, I’m not paying $.99 to move on! Of course, this is all pointless, since I don’t have a problem and I am not addicted to Candy Crush Saga. If I was, I’d pay that $.99, but that’s what weak addicts do. I only check my phone every few minutes to see how much longer I have to wait until my next free life is available. That’s just being attentive. And economical, I might add.

While I’m waiting, Step Twelve says that I have to have some sort of spiritual awakening and carry the message to others. I think it means that, once I get past Level 86, I’ll be at Level 87, and I should tell all my Tweeps and Facebook friends. Actually… since I told you at the end of Step Ten that you should download the app, I’ve already reached Step Twelve when you think about it. Awesome! Now I have more time to play Candy Crush Saga.

All of this fuss in the media about people being addicted to Candy Crush Saga is ridiculous. What’s so bad about an innocent single-player game? I’ve come to learn that you can half-listen to people while playing and still hear most of what they said. If you miss anything, they usually yell it at you again. And how can it be bad to amuse oneself while waiting for the bus or riding the bus, or even while walking home from the bus stop, so long as you look up for traffic? Is it a crime to play a round or two before bed as long as I turn down my screen brightness? Or in the bath, so long as I have an OtterBox phone case? Or while eating lunch when I’m all by myself, since everyone else at the counter is busy playing Candy Crush Saga, too? I think not.

In the end, these games stimulate the problem-solving parts of our brains, if not our dogged persistence. After only four months, I can feel my cognitive abilities blossom like the orange circles and the green squares I clear from the screen four and five at a time (So close!!! Only two jellies left that time!) Thank you, Candy Crush Saga, for giving me a reason not to pay attention to everything else.

After reviewing the twelve steps, I think it’s clear that I am not addicted to Candy Crush Saga. Seriously, I can quit any time I want. If anyone has a problem, it’s not me, it’s — hang on a minute. I just got another life.

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