We had a lot of fun at the beach and then headed home in the afternoon. As we parked at the ferry terminal, one of the students opened the car door and started walking along the ferry dock, looking down at his phone as he was rushing away. He walked so fast that I ran after him to make sure he was okay. But he passed up the restroom—where I presumed he was heading—and went right to the end of the dock. I thought he was going to jump.
“Got him!” he shouted.
That was the epiphany for me.
Everything I had only been giving half of my attention to became crystal clear. This was the “Pokémon Go” game they had all been talking about so excitedly.
I went home and looked it up on the internet. The scary stuff came out—the potential for criminals or terrorists to lure people into a death trap. The teenager in Wyoming finding a dead body didn’t do much to allay my fears, either.
Then, last night, my wife and I went for a walk along Lake Washington at “Log Boom Park.” We did our nostalgia walk (my wife had grown up in the area), and then returned to the park and sat down on a bench to talk (near dusk). As we were talking, I mentioned to my wife that everyone around us was looking at their cell phones. The two benches to our right each had a young adult typing away on their phones. One gentleman, about 40-45, had walked back and forth about ten times and was looking at his phone. A pair of pre-teens were staring at their cell screens, happily chatting away as they made it from one end of the sitting area to the other and back. A husband and wife in their 40s got out of their car, and the wife was rushing up to her husband and said something about Pokémon Go as they were both rushing around, trying to catch the imaginary Pokémon. It was absurd! We were the only ones in the whole park that weren’t staring at our phones.
I was laughing, almost cynically so, until my wife reminded me of what her sister said about the game: “Hey, at least it’s getting people outdoors and exercising rather than just sitting on the couch and punching away at their tiny screens.”
Today, we hiked up to Lake 22 in Washington State, and guess what several hikers were playing? I assume that people were on the hike because they wanted to see a beautiful lake, but who knows? They were exercising rather than watching Saturday morning cartoons!
I still think Pokémon is weird, and I won’t be playing the game, but if anyone reading this does, please make sure you’re aware of your surroundings, look up from your screen frequently to make sure you’re not walking into a trap, and never go into dark alleys. Be smart, and have fun!
Smash hit, Niantic!