Last weekend I found myself enjoying an afternoon stroll with family in the local park. It was a beautiful autumnal day and the trees were glowing red, orange and yellow. There was a clear fresh breeze and the sky was as blue as one could ever wish to see. The park was much busier than usual though, and it took us a while to see why there were so many people there that particular day. It was only when we passed through a group standing at the junction of a few paths that we discovered everyone was obsessively looking at their screens. It was one of the most bizarre social gatherings we’d ever seen where nobody was speaking or even looking at each other, there seemed to only be the vaguest recognition of anyone else being there. As we passed through the small crowd, they all seemed completely oblivious to our presence. I really regret not taking a photo, the ones gathered below from the internet give some sense of the surreal scenario we encountered. Certainly, not a single person was taking in the majesty of their surroundings. There seemed to be entire families ignoring each other, a stark contrast with families out on their bikes and breathing in the beauty of the day. Those skulking around with their heads bent over their gadgets looked pasty and lobotomised.
It’s difficult to say if I thought badly of the event which seemed like a half-arsed attempt at a social gathering organised on behalf of people who are already lost to a virtual world. To be honest, the fact that these people are generally at home craning over their screens just leaves all the more space for those of us who still want to enjoy the natural world.
Maybe I just missed the beauty of people getting together via a video game. Maybe they all got home and talked fanatically about the semi-virtual events of the day. Who knows?
Without any doubt, the article which was written under the title “Pokémon Go still has the power to bring people together” seems massively over-stated. The game, which was co-created with Google and the CIA, has used its users without their even questioning the designer’s intent. Quite possibly created as a means to refine the ubiquitous mapping of our entire world, including all the interior spaces of our homes, it has undoubtedly been an incredible ruse. How else could they have convinced everyone to go into their homes and provide a detailed map of every last nook and cranny, just so that the video maps could be uploaded to the servers of the secret alphabet agencies.
This enormous social experiment, probably the largest ever initiated, seems to be accelerating and it might appear difficult to make fun of it, but I’m trying not to take it too seriously. Let’s celebrate the beautiful natural spaces we have left and give thanks to the creators of virtual worlds who mostly seem to be able to keep the parks clear for us to enjoy.