I originally ran this article on Medium. Check out the full post there.
Hi friend from high school.
I know we haven’t spoken in some time. Did we ever really talk? I see you out there belittling people for playing Pokemon GO. Calling them nerds, using memes to say you’re too busy to take part. It’s not ok. I can understand why, without thinking, you’d call people names who play Pokemon GO (especially at our age). We’re old. We’re supposed to have our shit together, making babies, paying off mortgages. I know GQ told you it’s alright to paint everyone who plays Pokemon Go with the nerd brush — the same magazine that tells you to wax your chest and wear expensive jeans if you want to get laid. But — did you ever consider trying to wrap your close-minded brain around the reason why Pokemon GO is such a hit?
Let me give you an example. I see that you have a fledging bar and that life’s not all sunshine and rainbows. You have two problems that Pokemon Go can solve; one, it can get people sitting on your bar stools drinking for hours; and two, it can help you find a lover. Yeah man, Pokemon GO is the new Tinder.
Please, accept my free business advice — add some Pokemon Incense to your bar (or shop, or taxi, or food truck) to lure in new customers. Hopefully you can look past the fact that these customers are “nerds” and “pokefreaks” who, strangely enough, are just like you and me, and they are a hell of a lot more interesting and engaging than any character you’ve seen on The Big Bang Theory. If you open your big dumb mouth and talk to them, you’ll start to understand why Pokemon GO is EVERYWHERE; why you can’t walk two feet without seeing someone playing it. You’ve been here your whole life, but none of these people look familiar. Why is that? Some of these people have been battling depression, anxiety and agoraphobia and can now leave their house and explore the world and socialise with other like-minded people. Pokemon Go is doing wonders for mental health and is providing people with a purpose (free of charge) and reason to go outside. People who have had a tough time mentally don’t need your snarky comments and cruel labels. Let them enjoy the game. If you don’t like, it take a hike. Go back to doing what it is that makes you happy, because for some people it’s the simple act of finding a Squirtel in the wild (or in your bar if you play your cards right). Among that new crowd of people could be your future single mate. Millions of people are wandering around using the platform. Maybe they will walk through your doors, sit at your bar, order some cheap wine, and strike up a conversation with you while they wait to see if any new Pokemon pop up on their radar. Maybe they’ll give you their number. You know they will get your message because their hand is glued to that screen — maybe for a Pokemon or maybe in anticipation of your text. They won’t know that you once thought people who had time for such things were losers. Try to understand that people lose themselves in games to escape the realities of life; in the past this exploration took place indoors, and now they can spread their wings and enjoy the rest of the world. Pokemon Go has opened the doors to the outside world so that indoorsy gamers with anxiety can transition into outdoor exploration and fun — and they have every right to do so. Talking about mental health isn’t easy. Many will hide away rather than facing or disclosing their challenges, and this might be their way of dealing with it. You and I may drink our problems away, others just want to catch em’ all.
They aren’t nerds, or geeks, or four-eyed weirdos.
They are people.
Even if you don’t understand one another, that’s not a reason to reject or belittle. There are two sides to every coin. Is there ever one point of view with all the answers? Give it some thought.