I had forgotten about Pokemon – to me it was forgettable. Then, in the past few weeks, I started noticing a resurgence. People on Facebook were talking about the game – some for it, some against – as if it had relevance. I wondered once again if I had slipped-streamed back in time a few decades. It started showing up in the news. I investigated. Pokemon is back.
It’s back with controversy. The first contention is that the cute little game is being played by many adults now. I remembered it vaguely as something nieces and nephews were into in the 90s. Now, it seems, it is for everyone (except me).
The second controversy comes from the manner in which Pokemon is delivered in the 21st Century – via a free phone app. The app, like most, comes with a long, draconian agreement that no one reads. Hidden in the terms one finds curious language about turning over private information (darn near all of it) to the app and its owners. People seem upset about this. Perhaps “free” really isn’t.
Little about Pokemon is actually known to me. I understand it is some sort of Japanese cartoon cock-fight, maybe mixed with a scavenger hunt. I know children loved it, or love it still, and many adults are completely obsessed. Then I found something…
Back in 1999 I started a book, one of many I never even came close to finishing. It didn’t even have a title. Still doesn’t. It was a “what’s wrong with modern society” kind of book. One of the chapters was “Pokemon”.
I am decades ahead of my time and have been for a while now. My thesis, if I remember rightly, was not that Pokemon is (was) inherently evil. It may be; I’m not sure. However, I am confident that it is one of numerous trivialities with which people obsessively entertain themselves while the world rots around them. I think I wanted to use it, specifically, as a benchmark of the mindless, dumbed-down fantasies people use generally to escape the real world. That was 1999. There’s more rot around now in 2016.
A child’s game is fine for children. If adults enjoy it too, in its place, that’s fine. But, when there is so much else going on, it seems a bit odd that millions spend hours and hours trying to … do whatever it is one does in Poke-land. While they’re searching for the bird or the egg or the rainbow (???) and giving away their identity and location to boot, the economy is collapsing. It’s not just bad numbers anymore – the underpinning themselves are being eviscerated as if by a massive bombing. Then, there are the real bombings. And the terrorists. The racial strife. The robots. The debt. The attack of the one-worlders. The antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The civilization-resistant “refugees”. Wars. Real world things, many unpleasant. The adults play games.
Given the above turmoil, maybe a little trivial pursuit is in order – a little. I’m pleased today with two things. One, my thoughts are exceedingly constant across time. Two, so consistent also are the silly diversions employed by and against the people.
Play this digital version of Grit and Steel if you like. Just remember: it’s a game; THEY are watching you, and; there’s a big mess sloshing around off-screen.
My thoughts – 17 years in the making.