Pokémon Gone

Pokemon Augmented RealityThis is a post for people who aren’t into Pokémon Go.

I am one of you. I grew up in the 90’s surrounded by Pokémon and, as with the Backstreet Boys and bleached hair tips, I never understood the appeal.

BUT.

Something has happened.

It was quickly plain to see that this “augmented reality” style game was much more than a gimmicky fad with a tiny audience.

On the contrary, it has become a gimmicky fad with a COLOSSAL audience, beating out Twitter for single-day active use for at least one day.

That’s fucking unreal.

Beating out Twitter is a big enough feat in ordinary times, but this is the party convention stretch of the most ridiculous possible general election ever.

So, gimmicky fad or not, Pokémon Go means something.

Whatever. I don’t care. Who cares? Whatever.

Social media has exploded with chatter about this game, and there’s a lot of backlash. Any time something gets popular, hating on that thing also gets popular.

And I understand being annoyed by seeing this relic from the 90’s suddenly overtake your Facebook feed. I understand that very well.

But I believe in harmonious coexistence.

Not long ago, I would have said something like this:

To my fellow normal people who have never experienced Pokémon Go…Come on now. Let’s not be dicks. Pokémon Goers have a right to exist.

But I’m not sure I have the standing to say that anymore, because I am no longer on the side of no-Pokémon-for-me-thank-you. I have experienced Pokémon Go. And I can’t be neutral.

I love it.

You see, I have a five-year-old daughter.

She lives in the modern world with modern technology, and yes, we let her play with our iPhones sometimes.

And my wife, also someone who never understood the appeal of Pokémon, downloaded the app just to have a little fun with our daughter.

She loved it. I’m telling you, she couldn’t stop telling me about it. She was giddy with excitement.

My daughter also loved it.

And then later, my daughter made me download it. Because when your adorable five-year-old daughter wants nothing more than to go out with you and do something fun together like hunting Pokémon, you say yes. That’s what you do.

So we went out hunting Pokémon. And stupid cartoon or no, the “augmented reality” gimmick is really, really fun. I get it.

Seriously, it’s fun. Insanely fun. I had a goddamn blast hunting Pokémon.

What’s more, my daughter and I found ourselves in a sea of people in a wide range of ages at a coffee shop with a fountain outside. Before Pokémon Go, this place had never been so busy.

So yeah — the phenomenon is a boon for local businesses.

Yeah, yeah, stronger economy, so what?

I’ll tell you what, it’s also great for communities.

I actually talked with some of those other Pokémon hunters. My daughter was hogging the phone, so I had a chance to look up, and I saw didn’t see a crowd of isolated loners ignoring each other. I saw strangers coming together and meeting new people and enjoying a common experience together. It was awesome.

What’s more, my wife has said she also had a pleasant social encounter with a stranger because of the game. My wife is the most anti-social person I know, so that’s a pretty big deal.

The basic lesson is that once you let go of your preconceived notions, Pokémon Go is actually pretty rad.

And while I was never anti-Pokémon Go, I was very neutral and disinterested.

But now that I’ve actually experienced it, I am very much pro-Pokémon Go. Very much indeed.

So do yourself a favor: let go of your concern that Pokémon was a stupid cartoon from your bygone childhood. Let go of looking cool. Let go of pretending that being an adult means you can’t join a bunch of teenagers in a game that involves going out into the real world and staring at your phone.

It’s fun and it connects people.

It’s a good thing.

Come be part of it.

Catch it before it’s gone.

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