Alfred Hitchcock produced The Birds, a movie about a town battling with brutal bird attacks, when the creators of the Angry Birds game had yet been born. The classic thriller (be sure and rent it if you haven’t yet seen it) showed us the dark side of birds and we gasped at their power. There’s a new type of bird watching going on now. And it’s amazing how it captivates us and consumes our attention. When I first heard of it, I thought it would be a passing fancy, as all fads eventually fade. Remember Pac Man and Space Invaders?

After I purchased a Roku II player, I discovered Angry Birds, and it wasn’t long before I watched the clock tick into the wee hours of the night, mesmerized with this simple dumb game. Why do we so readily retire our minds in favor of a game and what is it about playing games that makes us want to check out of reality? And most importantly, is distraction a positive thing?

Consider life in the modern era. There is a lot of stress. When we’re not being bombarded by the media about an impending war, oil shortage or economic collapse, we’re concerned about how we look to the opposite (or same) sex. We’re concerned with how we’re going to pay rent, buy that new car, and find the right hair stylist or new therapist. There are so many choices we face daily. With the advent of technology, we are wired and available to anyone, anywhere anytime. Is it any wonder that in the midst of all this, we’re all looking for that infamous and looong exhale?

So when I sat down to my first “getting to know you” session with my Roku box, I immediately noticed Angry Birds was an option. I decided to once and for all experience what everyone had been discussing.  And so, like a hunter readying himself for the hunt, I sat in front of the flat screen, armed with snack, drink and my Roku clicker. I had no idea how to play or what to expect. I believe it was 3 hours later when I realized just how much time had passed. I couldn’t believe it. Playing Angry Birds was fun. The challenge of making it to the next level was matched by the challenge of increasing the number of stars! It was a one man party.

The next day I had to stop and wonder if those three hours were wasted.  I weighed all the things I could have been doing instead of playing the game. There were, of course, an infinite number of possibilities. I am a bit deep and think a lot. It’s sometimes difficult to turn off my brain. No doubt many readers can identify with this condition. For me, playing Angry Birds was a like a mental vacation. It freed me up for those hours from THINKING. What a relief to get out of my head and just not think. For those hours, my mind no longer was connected to the PLANETARY DRAMA, concerns about the future of the country or what my own future might look like. I’m hoping it’s not playing Angry Birds every night till 1 in the morning, But that is doubtful, since I have a mild case of A.D.D. and I am certain there’s a point when I’d eventually bore of the game anyway.

Maybe there’s something to being a slacker for a period of time each day. It can make us feel a little rebellious. Imagine playing Angry Birds in the employee rest room. That’s the ultimate worker’s revenge! Doubtless, it’s a mood altering experience. As with any mood altering substance, Angry Birds may become a compulsive activity. Not to fear, there will be a 12 step program for Angry Birds addicts shortly! In the meantime, I am going to  fully enjoy my new favorite game until it bores me or consumes me. These angry birds are a heck of a lot less harmful than Hitchcock’s and a lot more entertaining. They make me feel lighter and less serious. Don’t get me wrong, I won’t soon be wearing my favorite character on a t shirt (though I do like the black bombs – those are cool), but when angry birds fly, I’ll be luxuriating in my mental spa.