Pokémon and Public Shaming

I missed out on the Poké­mon craze the first time around, because I’m old. So I don’t have any nos­tal­gic attach­ment to it, and while I have Poké­mon Go on my phone, I don’t play it beyond occa­sion­al thumb-twid­dling moments; it makes me too close­ly iden­ti­fy with Stephen Collins’s car­toon.

Cartoon about playing Pokémon Go as an adult
Stephen Collins, pub­lished by The Guardian

But gen­er­al­ly, I don’t get agi­tat­ed about peo­ple play­ing it. It’s pret­ty fun, it’s inter­est­ing, I don’t see it as any worse than many oth­er enter­tain­ment pas­times. I def­i­nite­ly don’t see it as enslav­ing brain-dead human­i­ty.

Phone-obsessed man being ridden like a horse by Pikachu
ABVH’, based on a car­toon by Pawel Kuczyn­s­ki

I real­ly can’t abide this vision. Apart from being essen­tial­ly mis­an­throp­ic, it’s igno­rant of his­to­ry, and part of a repeat­ing pat­tern of pub­lic sham­ing and moral pan­ics over new tech­nol­o­gy. This includes the umbrel­la; ear­ly users were “hoot­ed and jeered at”, and called “minc­ing French­men”.

We need to put aside this idea that new tech­nol­o­gy makes us dumb­er, more self-obsessed, or iso­lat­ed. As Ran­dall Munroe’s XKCD put it: “It’s been two cen­turies. Take a hint.”

Cartoon: bemoaning new technology through the ages
Ran­dall Munroe, XKCD