When I was a kid my brother passed down a thick binder full of Pokémon cards placed in delicate little clear plastic slots.
He had spent a chunk of his busy childhood schedule collecting them and battling with his friends on the playground. I didn’t know anything about the game itself, but they were pretty cool looking and I loved the fact that they were his.
Then my neighbor asked me to battle with him, won, and took the entire binder for himself. So you could say my experience with Pokémon has left me with a bit of a stale, unsatisfying flavor in my mouth.
When “Pokémon Go” came out, I was hesitant to download it. But people ranted and raved so of course I caved and became a little addicted to it for a day. After I realized that most of the game involved walking around looking at the screen, I became disinterested.
But apparently, the rest of the world did not.
Recently I was running in one of my favorite parks, when I noticed how crowded it was. I was pleasantly surprised, as usually it was pretty empty. But as I jogged by, I felt a weird unsettling feeling as I realized that almost every single person had their noses pressed to their screens, following some map blindly. No one even acknowledged the fact that they were all there playing the same game. They just walked amongst each other like zombies, unspeaking and concentrated on their phones.
Safe to say I was soon sprinting through this park of the undead.
I shouldn’t be surprised, I suppose. iPhone apps have literally infiltrated our minds and our souls. “Angry Birds,” “Candy Crush,” “Flappy Bird,” “Trivia Crack,” “Pokémon Go” — they all force us out of the real world and onto our phones, which, coincidentally, have become indescribably bigger, as if to say, “Look at me, more!”
I’ve definitely fallen into the trap, as I’ve become more and more dependent on my own phone apps. And quite honestly, I’m starting to scare myself with how dependent I’ve become to little square boxes on my screen.
The second time I visited my favorite park after the “Pokémon Go” app came out, it was worse. Much worse. They had made the front sign some kind of Pokémon for the game so now people clung to it with one hand while rapping away at their phones. How can you be outside and not look up once?
I tried running without being too concerned about people methodically pacing around me, but when it became hard to even get by people because they weren’t looking at who was passing them, I became peeved.
The playground was empty, the basketball courts were quiet and the baseball fields were untouched. While feeling a little pitiful jogging by myself around the pathway, I stumbled upon some younger girls a few grades below me.
They asked me if I was playing “Pokémon Go” and I responded no. “Oh. Then why are you here?” You’re right. Utterly pointless me being here without my phone.
I understand the benefits of “Pokémon Go.” It’s a fun game that gives you a flashback to the good old ’90s, while also getting people outside. But what’s the point of getting people outside if they’re just going to walk into oncoming traffic to catch a Pikachu?
Lots of hopeful Pokémon trainers talk about how the game has helped them make new friends and bring people together. I can’t argue against that and I’d never want to trash someone’s way of being happy. But from what I’ve seen, the whole “Stranger danger” rule has kinda been thrown out when it comes to the game. People are so trusting and just want to do well in the game that they don’t care who they run into or who they make friends with. It’s also clear that people don’t have a sense of personal space anymore, as more and more often people are found wandering through lawns and backyards. While I won’t go into all the accounts of robberies and creeps who have used the game unfairly, but I think my point is taken.
But that’s not what I’m really afraid of. There are always people who take things and ruin what they’re actually meant to be for, and it’s always going to be that way. I’m more afraid of the response people have had and the games that are going to follow this Pokémon revolution. We get so addicted to things in this day and age it overtakes everything else that’s important. The technology for this game is certainly going to be copied, and when it is, who knows what will come out next to entice more people to lock into their screens.
Things are happening in the world. Great things, awful things and important things. But everyone is too fixated on capturing fake cartoon creatures to look up and see them all. I can only hope that people will start to get tired of it, look up and see what’s really important.
But until then, there’s no point in me telling people what to do or how to spend their time. So all I can say is good luck, and catch ‘em all.