At a Time of Social Division, Pokémon GO Brings Unity
Just like any and every country in the world, the United States of America has issues. These issues include socioeconomic division, systemic racism, police brutality along with a lack of trust in authorities, and an obsession with violence. Whether you’ve picked a side or have chosen not to, there is no doubt that the division between people and hurt in the country is strongly felt. It has been a rough week. It has been an exhausting week. However, during a week that is filled with sadness, anger, and hopelessness, Pokémon GO attempts to bring joy.
About half an hour ago, I arrived home from the park. For the record, I never go to the park. In fact, I strongly dislike the idea of going outside. Outside has things like insects and a slight chance of being robbed. The only reason I decided to go to the park was because I received a call from a couple of friends that said this particular park might be a good place to catch some Pokémon.
For the uninitiated, Pokémon Go is a location-based, collection-based mobile game where players go around the real world and collect creatures called “Pokémon”. It uses the perfect mixture of nostalgia and the pull of collection to create an experience that not only brings people in, but makes them stay.
Immediately upon arriving at the park, I was surprised about how busy the park was, especially at the time of night that I went. What was even more surprising was that bulk of the people at the park were playing Pokémon GO. Not only were people playing, they were talking to each other. They were sharing Pokémon. They were helping each other find Pokémon. The people at the park were coming together to enjoy something that we all share and love. It was like nothing I had seen before, especially for a generation of people who had spent the last decade buried in technology like no generation before.
A bit later, I was on the college campus. To no surprise, people playing Pokémon GO were easily spotted. Like before, it wasn’t only a solitary experience. It was being played with friends. My group of friends approached another group that was playing and conversed. The familiarity that this current generation of young adults share with Pokémon is such that it is easy to find commonalities. Not only that, but it is easy to spot others’ passion for Pokémon. It’s attractive. The bond that Pokémon GO players have is strong because it is a bond that revolves around something positive in every way, shape, and form. That positive energy engenders unity and friendship.
Who wants to get lunch near a PokéStop and/or Gym tomorrow? I’ll do it alone if I have to. I have no pride left to concern myself with.
— Jack Rooney (@JackIsGaming) July 11, 2016
I hit some Pokestops in a parking lot while waiting for my friends, and bonded with four people over being Team Instinct. PokemonGo is cool.
— Ben Bellevue (@mr_bentobox) July 11, 2016
A few days ago, I was going through emotional stress. I was stressed because I was reminded of a classmate who was shot and killed by an officer while trying to regain entry into his own house after being locked out. This happened while I was a freshman in high school, about nine years ago. What was even more distressing was the realization that many people won’t understand the realities of being black in America. Many people don’t want to understand. Furthermore, people would rather become agents of division, rather than of unity. Many people don’t want to listen to others, spread love and understand one another. A lot of people would rather argue than understand the hurt of seeing people that look like you being regularly gunned down and not deserving of it. I spent that night in sadness and sorrow. The next day, Dallas officers were gunned down. That sorrow then turned into anger as I failed to understand why someone would choose to take that sort of action and choose to hurt those who have chosen to help serve and protect us. I then began to feel hopeless. In this moment, I had never felt more disconnected from my fellow Americans. However, at my most distant, Pokemon GO has made me feel more connected with people than I have ever been in the midst of this division.
This piece was written by Blessing Adeoye. You can find Blessing on the internet either getting into dance battles or analyzing game culture for the purpose of making the world a better place at @blessingjr on the Twittersphere.