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Dear Pokemon Go Haters…

Since the Friday of Pokemon Go’s release my housemate (aka The Boyfriend), and I have been on the go almost constantly in an effort to “catch them all.” We are those adults out at 1 or 2 in the morning, clustered in a parking lot with a dozen other strangers trying to snag something we haven’t seen before. It’s no surprise that given the game’s sudden popularity that there are people who don’t care, don’t get the game or totally hate it.

Dear PokemonGo Haters…

For the people who don’t care or don’t get it and casually keep scrolling by all the updates on what Pokemon were caught where and who got to what level, kudos to you. You are a great example of a human being.

My beef isn’t with you.

It’s with those who have to follow up every excited post with a negative comment or fill the ether with negative memes, comments or loud grumbling. Seriously, in the time the game has been out so far I’ve had random strangers complain about us to other restaurant patrons (where we were also paying for food and drinks btw), security guards stopping their work to hassle me, and random internet people messaging me to tell me how much they hate the game and what I’m doing.

This, this is for you people.

Some of the complaints about the game involve people being super engrossed in their phones. That it’s not socializing. I beg to differ.

Pokemon Go is getting people to socialize!

pokemon social

Point A

On our first big night out hunting I wound up standing around a light pole with four other girls. Girl 1 said she wanted to go over to this one spot across the street and down the block because she’d heard there was a good spawning location there, but she was alone. If I hadn’t been there with my own group I’d have been all over that, but instead I gave her my number so we could later go out in a Girl Group. Girls 2, 3 and 4 were also there alone. All five of us traded phone numbers. Which means… I have four new friends. And haters, how many new friends do you have? -1, because you can count me out.

Point B

Last night we went out to the park. My goal was to walk laps so I could hatch an egg and I started out on my own. Keep in mind there are hundreds of people out there, so I’m by no means alone. During my walk I pass all sorts of people. Kids. Teens. Adults. Grandparents. Cat people. Dog people. Goths. Preppy dudes. Jocks. Hipsters. You name it–we’re out there doing this super fun activity. At one point I was admittedly more engrossed in getting the thing I was after than who was around me. Yes, that’s not awesome but a) well-lit place b) lots of people c) cops within hollaring distance.

This guy walks over and says, “Excuse me, miss?”

I didn’t see him, so I started, did the whole hand pressed to my chest thing and then…I look at him. If you’ve seen a TV show or a movie or anything, you’ve seen his type. He was perfectly dressed as what a lot of people would call a gangster. Not someone a lot of people would want to meet in a park after dark, but he’s there along with his crew of guys.

He then smiles and apologizes, he was a really cool dude, and asks what team I’m on. Turns out we’re both Team Valor and he, his group of friends, plus a few pre-teen kids are trying to take out this gym. For the next ten minutes we took turns battling the gym and doing our best to take it over and between battles we laughed, talked and got to know each other. To me, this is an excellent example of showing that people aren’t just who they appear to be. Here you had some rather rough looking guys, …uh…me and whatever I look like, and a couple normal pre-teens hanging out. The guys were super cool and two paused the game to tell the kids the importance of staying in school and not making their mistakes, I chimed in on the difference that sticking with school can make a difference, and we had a great time. (We also took over that gym!)

Pokemon Go is getting people to exercise!

exercise

There’s some conspiracy theories that the initial game development was funded by government health agencies. I haven’t looked into it. I don’t know that for sure. But what I do know is that instead of sitting on our sofa and binge watching the latest season of Vikings, my friends and I are out roaming parking lots, moving, exercising, squeezing in a quick 1K walk in an effort to get more Pokemon. The game has made exercising fun for a lot of us. I’ve begun to chart my weight and time spent walking in my planner, and though the results aren’t there yet, I have a feeling they will be.

And we aren’t the only one!

Our local Pokemon Go group is discussing good stretching, proper hydration and how to treat sore muscles. Because many of the people participating have never exercised before. And they now need to learn how to treat their bodies, how to stretch and how to care for themselves in a new way.

For us nerds, this is a big deal. I can’t set foot inside a physical gym without having an anxiety attack thanks to the hazing I experienced in high school. I’m downright terrified I’m going to end up with another broken nose and a black eye. So yes, having a physical activity I enjoy to this degree is huge! I actually just got a backpack from my mother that has a water bag inside it so I can carry more water and make fewer stops when I’m out walking.

Pokemon Go is what’s wrong with the world!

get a real hobby

Uh…really? Because that’s just silly.

A lot of adults like to display just how much they don’t know by using that statement. You want to know why?

  1. The game is mobilizing not just nerds, but many generations, ethnic groups and social “classes” to be in one place. Interacting.
  2. When you put that many people together, they talk.
  3. When people talk, when those barriers are broken down, things change.

So the only answer to that argument is, uh, no. Pokemon Go is likely to make the world a better place. I know that sounds silly, but I’ve seen people clustered around lures talking about this or that political figure, people debating with passion and facts instead of memes and jokes. Individuals who wouldn’t have spoken or shared information before are freely communicating and starting to see things from the other side.

Case in point, just the other night a middle aged white guy was hanging out at a lure. One of my earlier Team Valor gym buddies was there. You can’t get more dissimilar. Add in a couple non-white teenagers, myself and a few other adults and we started chatting about some local legislation that was bugging us. As a new home owner there’s a world of WTF I was unaware of before now. As we discussed the matter the middle aged white guy edged closer. He asked a few questions, but mostly just observed our conversation. At the end, when he had to go, he paused to thank us for our thoughts. Turns out he’s one of our city’s top elected officials and he’d just had a very enlightening moment listening to us, average citizens, discuss how his choices were making our lives harder.

So yes, Pokemon Go is changing things, and I believe it’s for the better.

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