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Just Say No: Ending My Strange, Candy-Wrapped Addiction

tuenight game candy crush margit detweiler

(Photo credit: Adrianna Dufay/TueNight)

It’s such old news. So passé.

I don’t even want to talk about my addiction. It’s like still wearing skinny jeans when everyone has moved back to boot cut (again). Like smoking when everyone else is vaping. (By the way, what is vaping? No idea.)

“Isn’t it all so 2013?” I asked Karen, our social media editor, over our weekly coffee.

“Yeah, but you’re still addicted and so is everyone else. I think it’s important to discuss it.”

So, here it is: I still play Candy Crush for, maybe, a total of an hour every day. On the subway to and from my office. In bed before I fall asleep. On the can. Sorry, but I need to come clean with the whole truth.

I’m not killing puppies or destroying my lungs (or my liver) — I’m just lining up jellybeans, creating color bombs and blasting meringues. It’s seemingly a harmless, albeit engrossing time-waster.

My husband looks up from his Ta-Nehisi Coates book, pointing at my game.

“Hey, there are three little red hotdogs you could line up…”

“THEY’RE NOT HOTDOGS, DAMN IT. THEY ARE JELLYBEANS.”

Man.

Okay, I have a problem.

Yet. I continue to invest time and money into Candy Crush Saga. In my worst moments of weakness and obsession, I have paid to get more lives and have succumbed to the $4.99 sales for 50 lives at a time. Each transaction is like a mini moral transgression, kicking my better (more productive) angels in the shins.

You see, after a day of reading and editing and endless to-dos, I can relax into my tiny iPhone world and swipe, swipe, DELICIOUS! It consumes me into its hand-held world while wedged between sweaty strangers on the stalled B train. I find tremendous satisfaction in passing each level. It rallies my competitive spirit. Am I the top player? Number 11? I didn’t even place? A moment of brief self-loathing. But I press on.

The scientific lure of Candy Crush has been explained again and again; we know that this is a game that releases dopamine into our brains and taps into the same neuro-circuitry involved in addiction. It’s a game that exploits our weak, world-weary, success-craving needs and has made its creators billions of dollars. The game rakes in an average of $633,000 a day.

My mother — she of dual ivy league degrees and virtuous crossword-puzzle expertise — just doesn’t understand. “I don’t get the appeal,” she scoffs. “Why not download the New York Times crossword puzzle instead? By the way, Nick of 48 Hours?”

“Nolte.”

(I get the pop culture questions.)

All of this has finally given me pause. Or rather, in the words of James T. Kirk, I need to “Get a life!”

The books I’m not reading. The mind-wandering inspirations I’m not having. The eye contact I’m not making.

I needed to quit, once and for all.

Of course, as soon as I went there, I heard a puny-little voice squeak, “But it’s not that bad is it, Margit? It’s only an hour a day, and it relaxes you, takes your mind away from it all….”

I play a few more rounds and, after losing and having to wait another 30 minutes for new lives (help a sister out, “friends”), I scroll up the screen to see how many more levels I have to go. The path is nearly endless. There are 1,175 levels as of this posting. Of course, they keep adding. There is no win to this game, just a candy cane-lined road to purgatory where the soundtrack is a dismal carousel nightmare.

So at Level 480, I have decided, Candy Crush needs to be crushed.

And… once I reach level 500, I will stop. A good solid number. I can do it. I’ll just delete the app with one index finger. Years of progress gone in two short taps. There she goes…

But yeah, so, on the day I hit 500, I was super stressed out, had a client presentation later that day, and so it wasn’t quite the right time so yeah…just a few more levels. (People, this is how bad it got.)

Finally at 521, I did it. I deleted the game from my phone. “Deleting Candy Crush will also delete all of its data.” Yes, I know, yes.

It has been two days. I had planned to write this story after a week without Candy Crush, but because I kept going after Level 500, I Couldn’t. Even. Do. That.

So what has my life been like in the two days without it? Pretty much the same. Maybe a tad more inspired, simpler, more loving. No, not really.

Instead, I found myself spending a lot more time on Facebook, where I realized Candy Crush still existed. I’d never played there, but apparently its much easier on FB (which is how you jerks are so far ahead of me!). But as soon as I clicked on it and the clang-ing song rang out, it was like that old, horrible ex who wore the tight black underwear that you never wanted to see again in your life. “Just go away,” I whispered. “Please.”

Perhaps I am indeed cured of my cruel candy-colored mistress. Only time will tell.

So please stop sending me your requests for lives, for help to pass the next level. I won’t answer. I’ll be doing something else FAR more important.

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