There’s no getting away from the fact that we live in a smart world with smart technology. It invades every aspect of our lives and while we appreciate the ease with which we can now do most things, technology can sometimes be too invasive and downright annoying.
By now you must have seen several groups of young people with their smartphones and their fingers moving at high speed at several locations across the island, perhaps Queens Park or the Garrison.
No they are not on Whatsapp, Instagram or Facebook chatting away as they usually do, they are out trying to catch the elusive pocket monsters in Pokemon Go.
For those who have no idea what we are talking about, it’s the latest craze sweeping the globe and catching a fire across Barbados. In fact, the Wall Street Journal reports that since the game was launched on July 6, 75 million people have downloaded Pokemon Go, collected characters, trained them and walked around cities to find where they might be hiding.
The game uses a smartphone’s GPS and camera in what is called “augmented reality”, where digital characters are imposed into the real-world setting and the GPS map tracks the player’s movement. That’s foreign language to most of us who can barely keep up with the ever rapidly changing technology.
But the overnight wonder, Pokemon Go is not all fun and games. According to international news reports, players have fallen off a cliff, some have been shot at for trespassing and others have walked into trees. This week, four teenagers were arrested in Missouri after police say they used the game to commit armed robberies, while in New Hampshire police reported they found a fugitive using a character from the game.
One player even discovered a dead body while looking for Pokemon.
There’s been nothing of the sort here in Barbados and we hope there’s no such drama. But already this week on state television, one young man confessed he was out as late as 3 a.m. to find pokemon despite having to be at work for 8 a.m.
Most of us are still trying to understand what the hype is all about and why our youngsters are so determined to find the elusive characters.
It’s almost tempting to dismiss Pokemon Go as just another smart technology fad that will soon fade, but from all appearances this new craze could be here for a while.
Lines have already been drawn between supporters and critics on the merits of the game or the lack thereof.
Supporters argue that gamers are finally being forced to get off the couch and get some exercise while walking around and sharing the hunt with friends.
On the other side, critics dismiss it as nothing more than a waste of time, while putting the safety of gamers at risk.
We stay clear of rushing to judgment on the choice of hobby for the excited youngsters but we urge them to choose wisely.
An addictive hobby that only entertains but fails to edify isn’t worth it in the long term for developing minds.
And we already have enough evidence that every trend on the world stage is not for the better.
Moreover isn’t it an expensive hobby? Where are youngsters finding the money to purchase the data to keep up their search for Pokemon.
What’s even more concerning is that technology continues to usurp the mind of the young.
With or without this game, it’s hard enough as is to keep them interested in worthwhile activities –– reading, studying, church, joining a charity or even simply having a conversation with a relative or neighbour.
We aver that instead of our youngsters consuming ever tech craze developed, they would be better off spending time and energy learning to develop apps that can equally capture their global counterparts.
May common sense prevail.