Well, it’s finally happened. A cultural phenomenon has brought me out of hiding to weigh in on it. Pokémon Go. I hate it. But I’m sure many of you could have guessed that. I am, after all, over the age of 40. I’m not big on technology. And I can barely drive my power chair in a straight line, let alone walk in one (although that clearly is not a requirement). But in the spirit of love and kindness, I’m examining my Pokémon prejudice and trying to face it with an open mind and a healthy dose of tolerance.
It’s been several weeks since my beloved Memorial Park was taken over by those masses traveling in packs looking down at their cell phones. Gone are the moments of peaceful solitude. Gone are the exchanges of pleasantries with strangers. Gone are the critters. (Yes, I’ve become the crazy squirrel lady, carrying baggies full of raw peanuts to throw the creatures from my wheelchair, like some kind of modern day, politically correct version of Cinderella.) And yes, I’ve lived here seven months now. That’s long enough to call the park mine. Heck, Frankie thought he owned it by day two.
Although, I do enjoy seeing grown adults stumble into bushes, my distaste for the pastime grew when I waited with a group at a crosswalk behind some guy on a bike absorbed in playing. When the signal changed, he played on, finally waving a couple on foot, past him. They easily went up and over the curb to get around him, just as the light changed again. I remained blocked and he remained oblivious to my existence, despite all my exasperated huffing. Luckily, his girlfriend had herself veered off to catch a Pokémon, but was paying enough attention behind me to tell him to get out of my way. Maybe it’s just me, but I think men are more susceptible to falling into this trance, or stupor if you will, much the same as with television. (Sorry men.)
My opinion further solidified when a friend read over the online guidelines in an attempt to see what all the fuss was about and if we were, in fact, missing out on something. He was reading aloud all the descriptions of the various Pokéballs, Poké-eggs, Poliwhirls and Poliwags and how the object of collecting Pokémon monsters was to battle other avatars in the Pokémon Gyms. The object of the game, he read, was to win prizes, advance levels and “become one of the most powerful trainers in the alter-universe.” He stopped reading at this point and looked up at me. “This is some bulls**t,” he declared.
But on to the love and kindness. I had long ago given up on trying to say hello to these Pokémon people and was stopped in the shade of the park’s trees, when a young man rushed over to me. “Can I help you? Let me get that.” He then proceeded to pick up Frankie’s water bowl until he realized in mid-action, it was full. “Oh, I’m sorry. I thought you dropped that. I wasn’t paying attention.” He admitted it! And granted, playing Pokémon had caused him to rush to my aid unnecessarily, but what good intentions! We then proceeded to have a nice conversation (about Pokémon) in which he described its appeal and showed me the screen on his phone. Apparently, there’s the benefit of family time and exercise, though I’d hesitate to call wandering at a glacial pace, stopping dead and generally getting in everyone’s way exercise. But the point is, he was a nice guy. And once I stopped seeing everyone as either a Pokémon player or not, viewing everyone with an “us versus them” mentality, I could see that.
So in the face of this Pokémon-mania and fresh off the “love trumps hate” bus that was the Democratic National Convention this past week, I’m trying to see past my personal prejudices. The world is not black or white, nor all good or all bad. Decide for yourself. Ask questions. Talk to each other. You’ll see. All Clinton supporters are not tree-hugging lesbians. All Trump supporters are not uneducated morons. (Harder to believe, I know.) And all Pokémon players are not ridiculous. After all, they may be a bit distracted, but Pokémon players are people too.