My dad never misses an opportunity to chide me about my fascination with Pokemon as a youth. I spent a small fortune on cards, games, stuffed animals, fast food giveaways, books, movies, and candy simply because it bore the branding of Pokemon. I even bought twenty Lunchables, because they had Pokemon cut-out cards inside and I simply needed to "Catch 'em all!" I fully admit that as a child doing the majority of his growing up in the 90's I was thoroughly addicted to Pokemon.
With that in mind, the release of the Pokemon Go! app has sent the teen world into a tizzy. I witness people walking down the street with their face buried in their phones, pointing out new locations with the imagined importance of Columbus discovering America. My mother even witnessed a person in their 30's extol the virtues of the new fad because, and I quote verbatim, "I am seeing places in my town I've never seen before!" It's almost like something out of Proust.
And with any fads comes the morons who are getting hurt because of it. Reports of people walking into walls, into traffic, and (thankfully hoax) fatalities have been reported. Lord knows what might happen in the next few days, but I advise you to keep your peepers on the road while you're driving. Because, as we all know, the pedestrian has the right of way, even if his right of way is a wrong turn.
And Pokemon Go! has also done the impossible: it has soared ahead Porn in the biggest Google Trends, according to ValueWalk.com. On Monday the stock of Nintendo went up 25%, which amounts to $7 billion worth of revenue, according to Forbes.
And, may I ask you, what will this amount to in the long run? Nothing. We have seen app games like these fizzle in weeks, including Flappy Bird, Temple Runner, Kim Kardashian's Hollywood, and many more. These apps come in like comets, blazing and strident, but fizzle upon impact. The beauty of the original games was exploring an imaginary world, filled with mystical creatures. Pokemon Go! commits the sin of bringing the fantasy world into reality. You're no longer expected to have imagination to fill in the blanks of this world far beyond our mortal plane, as our world is now the world to explore.
The two main arguments as to the benefits of this app are that it will lead to kids exercising more and learning more about their surroundings, and I can refute both of those points. Exercise means nothing without changes in diet and overall lifestyle. And, let's be frank, these kids are moving at a glacial speed, at least the ones I have witnessed. The health (and mental) benefits of this app are slim to nil. In terms of learning more about their surroundings, how can they learn if their faces are glued to a screen? They may see a place they've never seen before, but it's at the behest of the machine they hold in their hands. Children, even in my advanced millennial generation, were inspired to seek out the world that lies beyond them, without an app telling them that there's a Bulbasaur at the corner of 5th and Main.
This app adds to the already growing problem of kids and teens being glued to their phones. You can't go anywhere nowadays without every single living being you meet glaring at the little time-waster on their laps. They are the lifeblood that fuels the masses need for total control over their lives. I am biased in that I'm still in the camp where I take books with me wherever I go. I have a smartphone, yes, but I don't let it ruin my life. If it starts to annoy me, I'll turn it off and institute as fast.
People are no longer listening to the music of the landscape of existence, as their consciousness is clogged with clutter. There is great beauty in this world, as we are reminded in the words of George Santayana: "The earth has music for those who listen." If your eyes are glued to a Pokemon yapping at a screen, you most certainly cannot appreciate the music of the earth.
I understand fads, as I have been roped into many in my life, but the original concept of Pokemon was brilliant because of the fact that it was totally imaginary. It was so disconnected from reality that you could turn it into whatever you wanted, imagine a life in that world, and work to amass Pokemon in card, virtual, and toy form. It was blatant consumerism, yes, but it urged the owner to partake in the duty of adding to the creation, like artists painting impassioned murals on a beautiful building.
A generation that does not see the world around them is a major threat to their survival. The threat to the loss of our minds brings to words an explanation by Ayn Rand in Atlas Shrugged: "To exist is to be something, as distinguished from the nothing of nonexistence, it is to be an entity of a specific nature made of specific attributes. Centuries ago, the man who was—no matter what his errors—the greatest of your philosophers, has stated the formula defining the concept of existence and the rule of all knowledge: A is A. A thing is itself. You have never grasped the meaning of his statement. I am here to complete it: Existence is Identity, Consciousness is Identification."
To identify the specifics of life, as well as be aware of life in general, is the cornerstone of our society. The blurred lines between reality and non-reality are being toyed with daily. Pokemon Go! tries to supplant a facade of discovery on a set of formulas, nothing else. When you identify a Pokemon on the app two yards away from you, you are identifying nothing but a line of 0's and 1's arranged to create an image of a mythical creature. It would make the hunters of yore weep if they saw the ridiculous state their former passion is in.
If a person dies because of this, it is not the fault of Nintendo. It is a fault of the individual, failing to meet the needs of the reality around him and succumbing to the state of an eternal sleepwalker.
In my opinion, Pokemon GO! can go to hell.