Friday, July 15, 2016
Pokemon 'GO' - Another Dumbass "Game" For Digital Zombies
I first became aware of the latest app craze, Pokemon GO, on a CBS evening news segment which showed obsessed people staring into tiny screens with moronic grins, and running into traffic, sign posts and other (self-directed) pedestrians on their way to real jobs, appointments etc. Some of them were shown, including a girl, with bruises in the aftermath. In the latter part of the segment one group of these digital zombies had been lured (by a specific feature of the app) into a park where their money and cell phones were taken.
It's bad enough we have the usual gang of texting idiots working their tiny screens as they march distractedly down sidewalks and often into street traffic and walls, jeopardizing their safety and that of others. Now we behold a new league of Pokemon GO zombies, captivated by "augmented reality" (it isn't truly virtual) ready to join them.
Of course, the corporate entities who crafted this idiocy are jumping for joy. Melanie Hobson, CBS financial contributor, practically climaxed in one interview on Wednesday morning gushing about the "cash cow" the app will introduce, as "all the Pokemon GO characters go for sale on app stores and elsewhere". Even as she spoke you could hear the underlying rhythms of 'ka-ching!' - the corporate capitalist's favorite sound. She estimated sales will go into the "hundreds of millions" rivaling the previous Pokemon character craze a generation earlier.
This take of Ms. Hobson clearly shows that, contrary to corporate propaganda, the benefit of this new mutation of Pokemon isn't to "get kids outside in fresh air to exercise" or "encourage family togetherness", it's to make tons of money! No corporate honcho ever passed up a new iteration of the money-making shtick, and certainly not on behalf of positive contributions to society. As one cynical CEO put it, "We give people what they want, not what they need."
Let's take the nonsense that this stupid game, which is what it is, "promotes health and exercise". Well, not when so many kids are so obsessed with following non-existent creatures on mini-screens that they shuffle into traffic, bang into walls, street signs and each other - not to mention thieves who might do more than snatch their precious phones from them.
As other critics of this latest consumer fad have pointed out, it's not exercise when most of those tracking the Pokemon entities are "moving at glacial speed". After all, they have to often stop, get their bearings and ensure they have the various characters positions' (especially in what's called a 'lure') and they're in the right location before ambling on. By contrast, real exercise would be speed walking or jogging, or even playing a game of pick up softball or hard ball (like we used to do when 12, 13) in a sandlot or park.
In addition, no health bonus redounds to the benefit of anyone - no matter what the "exercise" (pseudo or real) - unless diet is a part of it. But I warrant that when these Pokemon GO zombies aren't following their imaginary critters they are in front of TVs at home, wolfing down Fritos, cheese dogs, Ho-Hos, chips and cokes - and not the diet kind either.
Another trope being spread as a benefit, which I actually heard come out of the mouth of an Asian guy on the same CBS segment was "I am now discovering new areas of the town where I live! It's almost magical!" Hey, Sherlock, you could have "discovered" those places, including museums, parks before if you hadn't had your nose buried in a laptop screen or cell phone mini-screen wasting time playing useless app games or surfing cliphunter.
As another Chicago blogger noted, this ridiculous app adds to the existing problem of too many teens and younger kids being glued to their phones. Is it better than eye-gorging on porno? Of course! But that's like saying amoebic dysentery is preferable to cholera. The problem is the digital obsession which is dumbing down these kids, teens (even too many adults) when they could be using their precious time on Earth to learn something.
Author Mark Bauerlein (The Dumbest Generation), originally pinpointed the problem and I did a post about it 6 years ago, e.g.
Bauerlein focused on the over use of social media, especially Facebook. He documented how the under-30 crowd were foregoing knowledge-based maturity to wallow in a self-confected, solipsistic, social mirror world of their own egos and selves. The fallout included their not even meeting basic standards of knowledge for employment.
To make his case, Bauerlein cited Northwestern University communications professor Esther Hargatti (op. cit., p. 135) who complained students’ choices were all too predictable. As Bauerlein put it in terms of the attention of young people:
“At number one stood Facebook (78.1%) followed by MySpace (50.7%). Only 5% checked a blog or forum on politics, economics, law or policy”
As he added, the “acclaimed empowerment” of the Web has gone entirely to “social stuff”.
Well now, evidently, it's gone to literally generating digital zombies obsessively tracking non-existent ("augmented reality") entities. It merely compounds the tiny screen scene where almost every human these days seems to be living his or her life in miniature domains as opposed to real life.
In a way this is understandable as the real world is a scary place, again reinforced with the scenes last night from the truck terror attack in Nice, France. But in the end, one cannot hide from the real world by chasing imaginary beings in an augmented reality app.
Further, it merely adds to the psychological weight of citizen distraction and compounds the false consciousness already well entrenched - a fact that must inspire the Neoliberal elites to new heights of undermining the social, civic space. After all, who's paying attention? They're all chasing imaginary creatures and risking life and limb in the process.