July 22, 2016 by T. Gregory Argall
For some reason there are people who can’t stand to see others enjoy themselves.
Now, obviously, if I see someone who enjoys beating puppies with a nail-filled baseball bat I will speak up and do everything in my power to help them understand how absolutely wrong such a form of enjoyment is.
But that’s not what I’m talking about.
I’m talking about people who are getting completely bent out of shape over the fact that the Pokemon GO game is popular. And I don’t just mean making casual comments about not being interested in the game and then just getting on with their lives. I mean outright anger and hatred, the sort of online vitriolic bile usually reserved for racists, child molesters, and movies with a predominantly female cast.
The folks who don’t give a damn about Pokemon certainly seem to be spending a lot of time talking about how much they don’t give a damn about Pokemon. Which is fine. That’s their choice. But when you are so focused on calling people out for “wasting their time” playing a game they enjoy that you actually spend more time doing that than they do playing the game, then you’re simply a hypocrite.
“But what about the idiots who walk into traffic while playing the game?” you ask, assuming a false equivalency among all the players. To that, I say people who are prone to walking into traffic are going to walk into traffic anyway, regardless of the game. Like some drivers, they are easily distracted and have difficulty focusing on much beyond their phones. They were like that before Pokemon GO and they’ll be like that long after the world has moved on the next fad.
And it’s a safe bet that right now, somewhere in North America, someone is driving in their car while texting a friend about how stupid those Pokemon people are.
Besides, Pokemon GO is far from being the first game of this type to gain popularity. Ingress is a seek-out-things-in-real-world-locations game that has been around since 2012. It’s won several awards and in 2015 there were an estimated seven million players.
However, when you hear people talking about Ingress, it’s easy to ignore them and let it get lost in the background noise of society because you don’t personally know what it is. But when one hears Pokemon mentioned in passing, a little bell of recognition rings at the back of the mind. “I know what that is; I’ve heard of that before, but I didn’t understand it so I don’t like it.” And because the whole purpose of the Internet is to provide a platform for telling people what we don’t like, there is an immediate Pavlovian need to mock players of Pokemon GO.
There was an assumedly grumpy old man in Vancouver last week who hung a “Get-off-my-lawn” letter at the entrance to a multi-unit building where he lives with dozens of other tenants who do not necessarily share his view of things, and it quickly went viral on the webbernetz.
In the letter he declared Pokemon GO to be the stupidest thing he has ever seen. Then, with a flair not normally seen from miserable grumps, he listed some of the stupid things he has seen in his life, none of which he judges to be on par with hunting Pokemon. The list included Crystal Pepsi, the Macarena, and Hammer pants. He concluded the letter by encouraging game players to go to a bar and drink beer, instead of walking about, interacting with people, and accidentally getting some exercise and physical activity.
Last Sunday a friend of mine went out with her children to hunt Pokemon. They walked about five kilometres around their small town, spent several fun hours together as a family, and saw places and things that she had never seen before. She’s lived in that town for twenty years and it took this game to show her the interesting things all around her that she hadn’t noticed before because she was driving past them.
Let’s see… Families playing together. Actually noticing the world around you. Getting away from the computer, out of the house, and exercising.
Yep, apparently stupider than Hammer pants.
If you don’t want to play Pokemon GO, that’s fine. Don’t. We’re on the same page there. I personally have no interest in playing the game either, but I also have no interest in being an asshole about it.
People are having fun. Let it happen. There’s not nearly enough fun in the world. Don’t crush it when it comes along.
Try to be nice to each other.