If you have been on social media or watching the news the past few weeks, you’re aware of a topic that seems to have divided our nation.
I’m not referring to the twin serpents of warring national political conventions (though that would certainly qualify), nor will this essay address the multiple issues surrounding “Black Lives Matter” versus “All Live Matter,” or even what should be done or not done in response to the horrible terrorist attacks which keep happening all over the world.
No, dear reader, I want to discuss a much more pressing issue which I think readers of Blooperman need to ponder lest inaction tear our world apart: The addictive Pokemon app which is so pervasive everyone seems to have an opinion on it they need to share.
Before you start typing out your screed for or against this topic in the comments section below, allow me to state for the record I am a 43-year-old man who never played Pokemon (or as they called it in the region of the country where I lived when it was all the rage, “Poe-Kee-Man”), but I recognize the nostalgia factor for those who did.
If you’ve been stymied by the draw of this newfound fad, here are the basics:
- People from all walks of life have downloaded an app which allows them to chase animated versions of characters from the ‘90s Pokemon cartoon and collectible card game on their cell phones.
- To do this they have to physically be near where the electronic creatures are located in the GPS world, with the goal of “catching them all.”
- Everybody who does this seems to want to share their fandom on social media.
- People who don’t share the enthusiasm for Pokemon Go want to deride these efforts on social media with much of the same passion and vigor.
One of my favorite exchanges I followed on Facebook (which I guess means I am super old, because all the really cool kids prefer SnappleChat, SnappleKat, MyFace, or some other application on which I am not hip enough to have an account) involved a friend in his 30s talking about how he was making all sorts of new acquaintances in the real world through this augmented reality game, only to be made the object of some good-natured kidding from someone who thought such an activity was clearly juvenile and anyone who indulged in it should get a life.
What perplexes me about this Pokemon debate, however, is how much venom each side is willing to spit at the other in trying to justify its position. The Pokemon Go lovers scream they should not be chided for getting out of the house and playing a game which reminds them of their childhood, while the Pokemon No haters think the whole thing is beyond childish and a waste of time for any self-respecting adult.
Pokemon Go is not something I am particularly into, but on the other hand I view it very much as a non-sports fan views the lengths to which rabid fans of any variety of sports go to in support of their team.
While I don’t think you will ever find me painting my body in the colors of the Carolina Panthers, Charlotte Hornets, Tampa Bay Lightning, Atlanta Braves (or any other sportsball team for that matter), I understand why some people do. And as long as nobody gets hurt, I am OK with that. Follow your bliss, and all that.
But some have blindly followed Pokemon bliss to their detriment. There are confirmed news reports of people inadvertently trespassing on private property while playing the game, and crafty criminals have lured trusting players into real-life traps where they were robbed of both cash and phones while on the hunt. Some of those infatuated with Pokemon Go in the first month of its release were shocked with how the game quickly ate up allotted data on their phone plans.
The one thing I think both are missing in the debate is a greater issue. I read the online agreement one must check in order to download the game, and it is reminiscent of the joke the South Park creators made years ago regarding iTunes: If you want the software to run, you have to give the folks who made it access to almost everything on your device, including contacts, pictures, location, and social media accounts, and the Pokemon people can reuse, republish, or generally do anything they want with the data.
If you aren’t familiar with George Orwell’s classic literary warning on the evils of constant electronic surveillance in 1984, you might be familiar with the Terminator movies where pervasive tech was used to take over the world. Is Pokemon Go how Skynet starts its takeover of the human race? If so, will our computer overlords allow me to wear my Spider-Man outfit while I willingly comply with their demands?
I’m being a bit facetious in bringing this up, but when was unlimited access to personal information ever found out to be a good thing? I think history says no, but maybe I am being too bleak.
Still, I will say anything that brings people together and causes no harm in the process should be viewed as a good thing, no matter how odd or even geeky it may be to those not included in the group who is enjoying it.
After all, photo galleries on my Facebook page will show I have been known to don a superhero costume to walk around a comic book or sci-fi convention for a few hours. It’s not something I do every week, but dressing up to show team pride is perfectly acceptable by social standards for sportsball fans, so I understand and appreciate what it means to not only enjoy something but endorse your love of it by spending money on a T-shirt, hat, or more elaborate outerwear to indicate to the world you identify with something.
So go play Pokemon Go, root for the Cubs this season, dress up like Batman for an afternoon, or just have some fun and don’t worry about who will judge you for it. The world might be a better place if we stopped trying to be the arbiters of taste for each other and stop trying to tell everyone else what is “cool” or how others should spend their free time, finances, or passion in the short time we have here together.
Or don’t. Who am I to tell anyone else what to do? After all, I spend a lot of my time watching decades-old sports movies for this site and telling you if you should too. Clearly, my judgement is suspect.
That said, Vision Quest is the current leader in the race for Celluloid Scoreboard All-Time Sportsball Movie Champ. Maybe we’ll open the debate later this year to let you tell us if that or some other forgotten underdog of sports-themed cinema should wear the belt.
If we do, though, there may well be an app for that. Data rates and usage fees will most certainly apply.
This has been Old Man Yells At Cloud, a column by Blooperman writer Juan Rico. His views and opinions do not reflect the management of Blooperman.com, its advertisers, subsidiaries, nor its affiliates. Republication of this work is prohibited without the express written consent of Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the NBA, and your mom.