Pokémon Go Is Not The End Of Society As We Know It

You don’t have to like it, but there is something you do need to do…

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past week and a half, you would’ve heard about Pokémon Go.

It’s a game for your phone that’s the most unique in the like of Pokémon games that have maintained a space in popular culture since the 1990s; unique because of its requirement that you go outside to play it. Once the app is open, it relies on GPS coordinates to determine where you are on the global map.

Pokémon are scattered throughout the map and pop up at random, prompting users to catch them from their phone in real time. They can rename them, collect them, evolve them and level them up to do battles to gain gym prestige that strengthens their chosen team’s local presence.

It’s doing a world of good for a lot of people. Those with depression and other mood disorders find the instant gratification rewarding, and people who have been neighbors for years are just now getting to know each other because a Bulbasaur appeared on the front lawn and they’re all outside hunting for it.

I was at the airport a couple of weekends ago and sat by one of those charging tables at the terminal. It was a long one, seating up to 10 people. Sitting next to me was a boy who couldn’t have been more than 12 years old; he was playing Pokémon Go. I had my app open too and we started chatting. He was telling me about his fave Pokémon and giving me tips on how to be better at the game, and we excitedly talked about who we were hoping to catch next.

At the end of the table, two Filipino missionaries suddenly shouted “Yo, Pikachu’s at the airport”. The older white couple across from us immediately pulled out their phones. There were two middle-aged men in business suits who couldn’t figure out how to catch Pikachu, so the 12 year-old went around and showed them how to use Razz Berries.

While he was walking them through how to do gym battles, I heard some guy off to the side snort about how people couldn’t seem to put their phones down these days.

Here we were, in the middle of this amazing moment when people from all walks of life were having conversations and sharing experiences around this app and this one guy decides to come on by and pee in our Cheerios.

Don’t be that guy.

Listen, I get it: Pokémon Go may seem like a kids’ game. It may seem silly and not be your cup of tea – but that doesn’t mean you have to be dismissive of the cool stuff it’s doing for people.

Hating something because it’s popular is exactly the same thing as liking something because it’s popular.

How about this: either enjoy the thing or keep your mouth shut and let other people enjoy it.

The world is not about providing you exclusively with things you like. You do not have to share your opinion every time someone talks about liking something you don’t.

You are allowed to be confused by how quickly this became so popular. You are allowed to be, and should be, critical of some aspects of the game that should be improved to make it more accessible to everyone. You can also be someone who is less into tech and would rather just sit outside with a good book – these are all absolutely okay things to be. What it’s not okay to be is resentful of other people enjoying something just because you don’t understand it or are not enjoying it. Why would you want to be? Is your life so worry-free that you have time to park your anger on Pokémon Go?

Pokémon is not the end of society as we know it, just like cell phones weren’t when they became popular, just like video games weren’t when they became popular, just like cable wasn’t when it became popular, just like television wasn’t when it became popular, just like newspapers weren’t when they became popular. It’s just a new fun thing people are enjoying. You don’t have to like it, but you do have to accept the reality and embrace change. All you accomplish by choosing to whine about change is ensuring you have a front seat to the world passing you by.

To quote one of my fave comics (Books of Adam by Adam Ellis) on the subject: “Shhh. Let people enjoy things.”

GIF via makeagif.com.

Comment: What are your thoughts on the Pokémon Go phenomenon?