When I finally joined, I was amazed at how many of my friends were actually there. I could message with friends I hadn't seen since high school, and I could look up information and see pictures of their pets and boyfriends.
Then I started adding different applications, after friends invited me and encouraged me to join them. It's all a ploy by advertisers, I know, but some of the apps are actually useful. The Pokey dog you have to feed every 24 hours became a nuisance, forcing me to check in frequently and wasting my time. I quickly uninstalled the yellow labrador retriever I had called Moose.
People kept sending me Green Patch requests - and when I finally added that application I found out you can save the rainforest. Still a little cautious, I googled it and found out that it seems to be legit. Sponsors of the program supposedly donate a certain amount of money to save the endangered trees, based on how much the users use the program. Now I send at least 20 fake plants each day to my friends - ranging from pansies and daffodils to Holy Shiitakis and Rolly Pollies. I've supposedly saved 31 square feet of rainforest.
But the application that really got me going was Knighthood.
It started with a request from a co-worker, as so many of these usually do. "I've made you a noble in my kingdom," it said. "Come join me!" I joined.
At first, I wasn't quite sure why I built a castle, a marketplace and a watchtower. But then I realized that I could move my friends around between the buildings and I started expanding my kingdom and upgrading their levels of usefulness. I invited a bunch of my friends, who all became my squires, and then I built as much as I could.
Then I hit a road block. The program didn't ask me to do anything else, and I was stuck. I googled it, and people were talking about attacks and conques and raiding for gold.
"I want to do that!" I thought. But how?
I finally read an Extensive Guide to Knighthood, and by following instructions, managed to add a Garrison and go into Attack Mode. Now I'm at war.
Of course, I realized there were still things I wasn't sure about. What do the little numbers next to the shields actually mean? And how come it says you make people weaker when you attack them over and over again, but at the same time you increase their defenses? And how come I get all my gold and my vassals stolen even though I keep everyone on their defense posts?
Turns out, this really is a strategy game. What I needed was a mentor. One day last week, this mentor fell out of the sky.
"Hi, I'm Jill. If you come join my liege, I can help you get stronger," this girl wrote on my wall - a sort of personal message board for nerds like me. Jill is an advanced player of the game. Originally from England, she now lives in California and (apparently) spends a lot of time on the internet - and on Facebook.
Having broken free from my previous lord - the co-worker who invited me - I was now sovereign and could sign up with Jill's as my liege. She's my new best friend.
I've spent hours in the past week expanding my kingdom according to Jill's instructions, which at first included releasing all my friends who never signed up for the game. They are apparently not very useful anyway, and they disappear after 15 days.
By me being stronger, I automatically make Jill stronger - that's her ulterior motive. But I'm OK with that. She has powerful friends in the game, and today they are helping me rescue one of my trapped knights.
The only problem? Jill is going on vacation for 2 weeks. How will my kingdom survive without her?