Some More Words on Pokemon

Note: This week I published my 500th blog post and I just wanted to think all the people who have read my work and provided support. I originally started this blog to track my cross-country bike ride in 2012, but it has evolved into so much more than that. It has become a diary, a place for me to talk about philosophy and the world around us, and a way to connect with people across the globe. Thank you for making this a wonderful project and putting up with the randomly long gaps in posts. You are wonderful and I love you.


It seems that Pokemon is changing the world, at least for now. I wonder if this is how people felt when Atari first came out and people were playing Pong. Sure, it was simple technology that we would hardly define as a real game, but it was the beginning of a revolution. Pong gave us Mario, which gave us NFL Blitz, which gave us World of Warcraft. I think Pokemon Go is similar. Whether it is truly “Augmented Reality” is up for debate, but it is starting to show the mainstream world how our life can be changed and we can move our fantasies out into the real world.

The coming years won’t be all smooth sailing, change is never smooth. There will be tragedies, deaths, and calls for political action to ban it. In fact, there already are people calling for Pokemon to be made illegal. There are people in this world who think the appropriate response is to send armed people after you and put you in a cage if you use this program, and considering many of the users are children I find that especially frightening.

Yes, some people are going to be negligent (they already have) and wreck their car, walk into traffic, or hurt/kill themselves. That always happens. Always. Should we ban cameras because someone might hurt themselves? How about stoves? Or all sports? Should any tool that could feasibly be misused be banned? It is a tragedy when someone dies, particularly to those close to that person, but the answer to tragedy isn’t the restriction of freedom for everyone else. We shouldn’t be trying to protect people from themselves. People should be free to play Pokemon Go, play football, work in coal mines, and climb mountains.

And yes, some people have already started to abuse the system for criminal purposes. But that is true of all technology going back to the first time our ancestors figured out they could use a rock to open a coconut or a stick to knock fruit out of trees. The world isn’t a 100% safe place, and I don’t think it should be. Danger and pain and suffering can be the path to growth and maturity. Besides, any calls for a completely safe world must restrict freedom to a level where we are little more than prisoners being coddled by Big Brother.

But, I don’t think it will get that bad. Technology always moves faster than the state and society, for the most part, is a loving place. This advancement is a move towards a more free and caring society. For too long people have bunkered themselves in their castles to chase the “American Dream” of an isolated existence in the suburbs. Things are changing though, people are getting out and walking to see their neighborhoods and I am excited for how the next generation will view the world and how this technology will shape that.

People are also starting to use Pokemon Go for positive things… which isn’t a surprise, the vast majority of people on this planet are really good and friendly. I’ve read articles about older Pokemon Goers (is that what they are called) setting up in places to protect younger users. Businesses near Pokestops are using the stops as a way to attract new customers and encourage people to buy from local shops. In Portland there is a “Pokemon Pub Crawl” using the app to get people together to meet and hang out. A group in Denver is using a Pokestop to attract customers and the proceeds are being donated to those in need. Animal Shelters are calling on people to volunteer to walk their dogs while playing Pokemon. People in neighborhoods are setting up snack stands at Pokestops to provide nurishment for the players.

Yes, some of those things are illegal, but that’s okay. The laws they break are bad ones and a little civil disobediance is a good thing. We need to remember that the government is not “the will of the people”, it is the opposite. Society and Government are opposing force, the former calls on cooperation and using your words to convince someone to change their actions, the latter calls on coercion and the use of force to change someone’s actions. Pokemon Go is a product that encourages society to grow and is one more small flame being lit against the paper tiger of government. It is one more blow against the state and will (hopefully) lead more people to turn to their neighbors and community for help instead of men with guns and cages.

Pokemon is Agorism… and that is a beautiful thing to me.

Pokemon Go!

So, there is a new game out that is taking the world by storm. Whether it is the next professional sport or just another fad is yet to be seen, but so far people seem to be enjoying it.

If you are unaware, the basic concept is you walk around your town or wherever and pokemon will appear. You catch them, level up, train them, earn badges, and battle at gyms. Finally, we all get to be Ash Ketchum (ugh, I hate puns). There is, of course, many haters.

With every new game or technological advancement there are crumudgins who grumble about “kids these days” and how the world is immature and we are going to hell in a handbasket… grumble grumble grumble. The unknown is, by default, bad and regressive and a sign of how the world was better in the past.

Haters suck. Don’t be a hater. If you don’t understand something that makes other people happy then you should just be happy for them. Understanding why something brings someone joy is a good thing, but if you don’t have the time and energy for that (and all of us have finite of each), then at least be ambivalent. I’m sure there is something you do that confuses the “kids these days”.

There are, of course, some things in Pokemon Go that could be dangerous. I’ve seen a few reports of people wandering into traffic or getting their phones stolen while playing the game because they weren’t paying attention. That is true of all things… remember the shithead kid who was using Snapchat and ended up killing some people? I don’t think that justifies making something illegal though, and I’m sure some paternalistic 80 year old asshat in DC is going to try and make Pokemon illegal at some point.

For me, the game has been a lot of fun to play. There is something in my lizard brain that likes getting rewards and seeing what new animals will pop up. There is also the thrill of competition when trying to take over a gym and be the first to catch a rare pokemon (unfortunately, I know very little about the pokemon mythology and have no clue if I’m doing well or if that Exeggcute has any value). The game has encouraged me to add time to my daily walks though, instead of just wandering to the corner and back with my dog I decided to walk to the beach this morning and then after catching a Bulbasaur and getting to level 5 I added more miles on my way to get my ass kicked at the local gym. In fact, I think my new morning routine will be coffee, meditation, and Pokemon Go… just use a little incense, put Higgins on a leash, and walk a mile or two along the beach or in the forest.

I think Pokemon Go will be around for a long time. As technology improves the world will become more immersive, and inevitably they will add more pokemon to catch. I’m sure we will see some sort of professional tournaments where kids can earn money doing something they love… and isn’t that what we are told to do? Find something we love and make it a money-maker? I don’t think that is limited to traditional jobs (whatever that means… today’s tradition was yesterday’s revolution). The world is becoming more leisure based, life is becoming easier and more fun, we are heading towards an era of prosperity where we can all spend our time making art, studying nature, building inventions, and catching pokemon. I, for one, am happy to live in this amazing time and am excited for what the future will bring.