Unless you are living under a rock somewhere, which I’m assuming you aren’t since you are reading my blog, we have all heard about the new craze known as Pokémon Go. In just one day, it became the next biggest thing to hit our country next to the internet itself. It exists everywhere you go. I don’t mean necessarily physically, though that is the case. But, it is being featured on every news program, social media post, newspaper, magazine, website, phone call and conversations everywhere.
In fact, I was at my doctor’s office yesterday waiting my turn when an older lady sat next to me. I am always wrong with first impressions, but I would guess her age to be in the late 60’s, maybe even her early 70’s. She was very pleasant and we began to visit. I had my cell phone in my hand as I had been reading various social media posts as a way to pass the time. When we began our conversation, I immediately set my phone down. She quickly asked me whether I was doing that “Pokema (this is how she pronounced it) thing.” I shook my head quickly and said “absolutely not.” And so, even sitting with a complete stranger at the doctor’s office, it was the beginning of a conversation.
I have to question whether our country going crazy over Pokémon Go is a good thing or not. It seems to be yet another way for folks to not engage in interpersonal contact with one another. There have been many news reports about the potential mental health benefits. Specifically, the reports have shared numerous incidents where people who normally stay in their home in front of their televisions and gaming computers are actually going outside and walking around (this is required in the game).
I have seen many dog shelters advertise the benefits of taking one of their adoptable dogs for a walk while playing Pokémon Go. And not just a half an hour ago, I watched a video of children who have spent months and months in hospitals across the country, being willing to get out of bed and wander the halls in order to capture the Pokémon Go monsters. All of this seems beneficial for many different types of people.
However, what about the side effects of this game? Yes, I mean the side effects. Most often this term is associated with the physical and mental complications and/or ailments experienced as a result from some type of medical treatment. Commonly, we think of prescription medications and cancer treatments, to name a few. But shouldn’t we also consider the side effects of playing Pokémon Go?
Here are some examples in this week’s news stories.
- A man crashed his brother’s car into a tree in central New York while playing. He suffered a broken ankle and the car was totaled.
- Two individuals jumped a perimeter fence at the Toledo Ohio Zoo to play. They are now being charged with criminal trespassing.
- The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and Arlington National Cemetery had to publicly request that smartphone users refrain from playing the game when they visit.
- Anaheim, California: Man stabbed multiple times in park while playing.
- In two separate incidents, two brothers found a loaded revolver in a grassy field while playing and another group found a deceased individual (different locations).
- And two friends were chasing characters near the cliff on a beach, not paying attention because their heads were glued to their cell phones, and plummeted 60 feet down the cliff.
- Living in a fairly small town of only 50,000 residents, I have seen countless individuals walking with their heads down completely oblivious to their surroundings.
- I wonder how long it will take before we see individuals running through traffic and across busy highways and interstates to their untimely deaths.
All of this in the name of “entertainment.” Seriously?
However, this is a free country and we are free individuals. Therefore, we get to make our own decisions about what we do in our lives. But, just like other devices (and I’m not necessarily speaking electronic), there has to be some caution and concern when the innocent and unsuspecting lives of others are put in harm’s way. Isn’t that why the FDA was created?
We live in what is often referred to a “sue happy” nation. It won’t be long before someone’s life is taken while playing this game and the million dollar suits will begin to be filed. This will be just another example of how individuals refuse to take responsibility for their actions.
However, what is most concerning to me is the continuing trend towards non-interpersonal connections with others. In the game, one assigns themselves a name, an avatar and one’s true identity is hidden. This is supposed to be for one’s safety. Yeah, ok! What has happened to meaningful conversations with others? What has happened to establishing friendships which become bonds for life? What has happened to the innocence of youth?
This has all become yet another means for people to completely ignore one another, to isolate and not communicate, and to never learn how to just get along and play nice with others. I hope this new craze passes quickly. What has happened to going for a walk because you want to look at the scenery, smell the vegetation and the scents in the air, feel the wind in your hair, and feel the warmth of the sun upon your face?
Please, leave your cell phone in your pocket. Hold someone’s hand and be present in the moment, appreciating all of the things in your environment and surroundings. Have an enjoyable stroll and a great conversation. That is what memories are made of.