#OurWorld: The Pursuit of Happiness
With the phenomenon of Pokemon GO sweeping the nation, I’ve been viciously reminded of one of our society’s subtle problems.
For those of us that are playing, we are living a childhood dream with gusto. We are roaming the wilderness, traveling to distant towns, making new friends, getting fresh air, engaging in mostly friendly rivalries with other trainers. There are stories of people coming together, erasing the boundaries of race, religion, age, sexual orientation…there is nothing to be concerned about except for the primary goal of capturing Pokemon. I have talked to people who are connecting with their children or grandchildren by playing this game. Kind folks are putting up ‘lure modules’ (Pokemon attractors) at hospitals so that bed-bound patients who can’t go searching can still play Pokemon GO. It’s…amazing.
On the other hand, there have been negative stories. Someone swerved to purposely hit a pregnant woman playing Pokemon Go. People put up signs decrying the game as “the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen” and urging people to think about their life choices. There’s a petition going around to ban the game as a menace to society.
Here’s the deal, and why I have turned this into a social issues post. We are all created differently. We enjoy different things. That’s why the diversity of this world is so gorgeous. We pursue different hobbies and talents, and by the end of the journey there are so many interesting things for us to enjoy that there’s no possible way to try them all.
The beginning of me being a happy human being was to completely own my weirdness. I am unapologetically a nerd. I LOVE Pokemon. And now, I get to live that love. I made Team Valor T-shirts. I stenciled a Pokeball symbol on my backpack. I dress like a Pokemon trainer when I go out and about to look for Pokemon. I introduce myself to trainers by my trainer name (“Hi, I’m Esskaye! That’s my gym over there.”). I swagger about and poke at trainers who are better than me to engender rivalry. I sit and help new trainers become better at the game. I am, in short, having a blasty blast. I am no longer shy about admitting my enjoyment of video games, anime, manga, lusty romance novels and violent fiction, and childish whimsy. When I get into something new, I get obsessed on purpose because it’s fun. It keeps me sane and happy.
The thing is, the world is falling apart. It’s always falling apart. If we want to know just how badly it’s falling apart, all we need to do is watch and read the news for an hour. If you want to know, there is death, destruction, and atrocity happening at every single moment of every single day. If you want to dwell on the negatives, they’re actually really easy to find. If that’s the worldview you want to take, that part is easy. Being happy in spite of it all is decidedly not. So when you hear someone saying “The world is falling apart, and these nerds are looking for fucking Pokemon”…
Yes. We are.
Dwelling on just how disastrous the situation is, right now, is actually overwhelming to me. I can easily slide into an anxiety attack just thinking of how fucked the world is.
For example, the other day, I had this moment of crushing stress when I realized how close this month is going to be in terms of bills. I was supposed to have 2-3 roommates since we moved in to help with all the costs associated with the beginning of home ownership, like needing seating and shelving. I didn’t, so money has been tight. And with the added roommates, I was supposed to making leaps and bounds toward paying off my lingering credit card debt. I haven’t. Other things also happened that day, adding to the stress. So I broke down in tears stressing about it.
And then I went out looking for Pokemon, and for a while I felt okay.
So here’s my soapbox moment of the week.
We don’t understand each other, and that’s fine. But rather than shit all over other people’s dreams and other people’s hobbies, try to understand the motivation driving that. And if you fail to do that, just let it go. This week, it’s Pokemon GO. But it’s also other things, like anime conventions, Renaissance Faires, Dungeons & Dragons, or from the opposite side of the nerd aisle, sports, geeking over cars, running for fun…
Just be kind to each other. If people aren’t interfering with your own brand of happiness, let them have theirs without bitching about it. There are far worse things to occupy a person’s time than, say, a free mobile app that gets people moving around outside and brings in extra custom for small businesses. For me, it’s refreshing to see people coming together over anything rather than shooting each other on the street. Even if you know nothing about Pokemon AND think it’s dumb, surely we can appreciate that on a basic level.