I woke up this morning to a meme on Facebook spouting the dangers of Pokémon GO like a Nostradamus prophecy: Your children shall be lured to parks and malls, where the men-of-boogey await, lurking to catch ‘em all. Okay, it didn’t say that, exactly, but it was almost that bad.
Social media is a mess lately. Maybe it’s simply bringing into view the dysfunctional relationship that humanity has with itself.
One person says Black Lives Matter. The next says All Lives Matter. And then those two people get into a pissing match over who is the better humanitarian.
One person says “celebrate individuality.” The next says “You’re trying to make everyone the same by saying ‘everyone is an individual.’” Yes – I’ve actually seen that statement. And sadly, they were serious.
Now, we have “Kids should exercise more! We need to get out of the house” followed up with “Don’t let your kids play Pokémon GO!” I’ve seen more kids out in my neighborhood meeting each other in the last week than I have in the last 5 years.
So tell me, oh great Internet… which is it? Do we leave our homes, meet each other, and connect? Or do we hide inside, afraid that someone “might get us” because the media only shows you the bad stuff… and you believe that’s all there is? This morning, I responded to this meme saying, “MOST people in the world do NOT want to do you harm.” The response was “Do you even live in the world?”
Yes… I do… and as I look around my surroundings, I’ll repeat it… MOST of the 7+ BILLION people on the planet do NOT intend to do you harm. If you think that MOST people mean to do you harm… well… I feel sorry for you, because it must suck ass to live in such fear of the one thing that makes us all human: humanity.
Yes, there was a case where a few asshole kids hung around a Pokestop and robbed some people. They got caught. It blew up news wires and social channels alike. How come you, oh illustrious webonauts, failed to mention the MASSIVE meetup groups, where hundreds of people have come together to connect, meet, and go on Pokémon adventures? Oh right… because none of those hundreds of people got robbed…. You know, like that one guy.
When you go to a public place, you run the risk of getting robbed. Some statistics say it’s a 1 in 20 chance. Others say it’s much, much lower. It does depend on where you are, who you’re with, and how alert and aware you are. The media would love to have you believe that every Pokémon GO enthusiast is getting robbed, or is finding dead bodies, or whatever other horrible thing might have happened. But in reality…. most people just catch Pokémon. Some people get exercise. Others make new friends.
Pokestops are mostly located in places where people already gather – parks, malls, churches, etc. The risk of getting pickpocketed or worse at these locations hasn’t increased because of Pokémon GO, and the app itself hasn’t increased the number of people with their noses in their phones. People are still using social media or texting while out in the open… I’d have to argue that people playing GO are actually MORE aware of their surroundings. The app shows you what’s in front of you through the phone camera. It’s still no excuse for being unaware of your surroundings in public.
But at the core of these memes, what I see is people who don’t want to play. Moreover, those people who don’t want to play think that NO ONE should play. Instead of just saying, “I don’t play,” they have to make it into a “thing.” And truly, whenever someone, somewhere comes up with something that is cute and fun, and especially if it gains quick popularity, there just has to be that contingent on the Interwebs that makes it into something vile, evil, or – dun dun duuuun – SOOOOO DANGEROUS!
Pokémon GO isn’t any more dangerous than using other games or apps in public. So just stop. You sound stupid. If you don’t like the game, don’t play. But don’t make it your next social cause. And while you’re at it… go outside and meet some people. Maybe we can foster a little more understanding and a lot less armchair quarterbacking of social perfectionism if we’d do ourselves a favor and leave our homes occasionally.
For me, Pokémon GO has gotten me off my ass. Use whatever catalyst you need… just don’t try to make mine into something it’s most assuredly not.