I have been aware of the new Pokemon Go craze sweeping the world.It’s hard not to aware of it with people (even grownups in business suits) wandering city streets, eyes glued to their phones, fingers stabbing the screens aggressively). I inadvertently mentioned the game to Gill — and then I started to worry. What if Gill, L’il Sis or Crazy D got hooked by the game? This is a family that can’t find its collective way out of a paper bag using GPS. We’re also a family that loves small, cuddly-looking creatures and even more disturbing, has been known to ‘lose the plot’ during a burst of creativity. For us, Pokemon Go has disaster written all over it.
I felt I had to get my two cents’ worth in before any of my children discovered the game. So I let loose with a rant about the stupid people playing it and my general distaste and wonderment that anyone would bother with such a data-sucking, time-wasting, ridiculous pursuit. “These people have way too much time on their hands,” I complained.
Gill disagreed. “Oh, Ma, you are in a cranky mood. I think it’s great. I find the whole idea of looking for and catching strange, imaginary creatures, fascinating. It’s all just good fun.”
“Ha! Why would you think that’s so fascinating? You look for (and expect to find) Burmese rebels under your bed every night when you go to sleep.I should think that would be enough in the way of ‘imaginary friends’ for you.And then there was the mysterious ‘moth’ in your curtains a few weeks ago that turned out to be a piece of the fabric.I should think you’d want to give your imagination a well-deserved rest.”
“Fair play, Ma.”
And then, taking the tone of her voice into account, I suspected that Gill just might be getting the Pokemon app as we spoke. I know that will go nowhere good. I mean, this is the woman who carries a tiny plastic dog around with her everywhere, takes pictures of it in different locations (not unlike the Traveling Gnome ads), carries an owl lunch kit to work, keeps a piñata under her desk (for her mental health), and tracks (stalks) a pet hen named Monique as it sails the world…and that list doesn’t include her obsession with penguins on the Internet. Do we really want Gill anywhere near Pokemon?
As for Crazy D, he can’t even find his way with GPS. I know this because we have taken many drives in the country with him getting lost and screaming at the “goddamn stupid GPS”. And the last time he picked Gill up at the airport, he got lost in Departures when she was in Arrivals. Plus, he hates cell phones and only has one because of his work. He’d happily take a hammer to it and live as a hermit in the northern woods with no computers, phones, or tablets anywhere near him.
L’il Sis admits to also having no patience with technology, couldn’t read a map if her life depended on it, and is not shy about voicing her fear and loathing of tech giants that inflict their ‘must have’ latest gadgets on a gullible public. I don’t worry as much about them becoming addicted to Pokemon, but I do wonder about Gill.
Gill has always had the tendency to wander the neighborhood (some might say she’s a stalker; I think of her as a ‘casual observer’ or unofficial member of Neighborhood Watch) checking things out. By ‘things’, I mean, the local bird population, what neighborhood dogs have been shaved for summer, which houses have been renovated, whose garden has been turned into a haven for bees and butterflies, what areas in the local woods hold telltale evidence of teenaged drinking parties. Giving her ‘cover’ in the form of Pokemon Go would be to nobody’s advantage. She’d be apt to step off a curb into traffic or fall down a hill into the creek.
And when I read in the newspaper that the police have already been called on numerous occasions to check out people trespassing in others’ yards, wandering blithely into traffic, being generally unaware of their surroundings, I knew that Gill’s wandering days might have to come to an abrupt end. Really, one person’s wandering is another person’s ‘casing’ or loitering. Claiming to be looking for a tiny yellow imaginary creature with large eyes isn’t going to stop her from being arrested…it might also bring the little men with the nets. And there’s always the possibility, as I read in the paper yesterday, that someone will shoot the Pokemon trespasser with a b. b. gun.
There are arguments in favor of the game. One mother claims it helps get her child outside — somewhere he apparently doesn’t like to be. But now he wants to go outside, without being prompted, to hunt for Pokemon characters. Why, when Gill and her siblings were young, all I had to do was open the front door, point, and tell them to not to come back until dinner. When did kids stop looking for bugs and critters, mud puddles to splash in, trees to climb, forts to build, new places for bike rides? Now we have to have a screen with imaginary things to lure them outdoors?
Some have argued that playing Pokemon Go is a great way to make new friends. While they’re out searching, apparently they meet all sorts of new people and start up conversations. I’m afraid I’m still old school. I will beg, borrow or rent a friend’s dog, take it for a walk, and voila — new friends. Dog walkers are notoriously friendly and chatty — especially when you lead with, “Oh, your dog is so cute!” And the real advantage to that approach is that you get to pet and cuddle a REAL furry critter, not some imaginary cartoon character.