Pokemon GO: The New Bird Watching
Pokémon GO is Today’s Bird Watching for Cities and Suburbs
At Phone Away, we spend quite of bit of time tackling the real-world challenges associated with phone addition and phone abuse. In a perfect world, people would use their phones responsibly – for reasonable communication, convenient research and perhaps as a way to safely navigate their way to a friend’s house or a restaurant. Normal stuff.
When Niantic launched Pokémon GO last July, we were shocked to see what transpired. People (and the media) lost their collective minds in this new world of augmented reality. People wandered all over their cities, towns and neighborhoods looking for Pikachu, Charmander and the occasional Snorlax. There were reports of mobs running through the streets at the chance of capturing a wild Gyarados or Dragonite.
On the surface, you’re probably thinking that we’re completely against this new obsession. And you’d be half right. We’re not thrilled that people are on their phones. However, we are completely on board with what Pokémon GO has delivered for millions of people all over the world. In an effort to present “fair and balanced” reporting of phone use, we’ll offer the following three benefits of Pokémon GO:
- People are walking. Pokémon GO actually promotes a healthy amount of walking around in search of their “monsters.” In addition, the players are incentivized to walk so that they can “hatch eggs” and “collect candies.” We’re putting it in quotes because this isn’t a how-to editorial, just an innocent observation piece. If you want to know how to actually play Pokémon GO, just ask anyone between the ages of six to twenty-six.
- People are exploring. While you’re not encouraged to trespass on others’ properties (and certainly never, ever play while driving), Pokémon GO does give you a reason to go to places you’ve never visited before. Personally, I’ve probably “hunted” in at least twenty different parks in the last four months.
- Strangers are becoming friends. It’s amazing to see the number of strangers that had the courage to strike up a conversation with me while playing the game. We’re not talking about weirdos. Regular folks like me and you. People from all walks of life, who would typically ignore each other, are finding something to talk about.
Why is it like bird watching? The main point of Pokémon GO is to “catch ‘em all.” Much like birding, where you keep a journal and check off all of the birds you find, Pokémon GO gives you a digital list of all of the Pokémon you’ve captured (and the ones that are still out there). You’re constantly looking for the thrill of completing your Pokédex.
So how can Phone Away endorse Pokémon GO with a clear conscience? Well, we recognize that there are healthy, and unhealthy, ways to use your phone. In our opinion, if there’s an app that promotes exercise, brings families and friends together, helps communities become closer, and gives kids a reason to do mathematical equations in their heads (too hard to explain here), then it can’t be all bad. Are we telling you to go out and use your phone even more than you currently do? Not at all. Are we saying that all phone apps are “the Devil?” Nope.
For the record, we’d much rather people go bird watching. But if there aren’t any painted buntings in your area, then searching for a wild Pidgeot will have to do.
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