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Why Pokemon Go Is Exactly What I Needed In My Life

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Pokémon Go has taken the whole world by storm. Never since the late 90s has Pokémon been such a huge cultural phenomenon. Last time I saw Pokémon be this big a thing I was in early high school and demanding everything with a Pikachu on it for my birthday. Those were crazy times, but it appears that things just got crazier.

Pokémon Go, if you’ve been living under a rock, brings Nintendo and Game Freak’s popular series about catching cute, cuddly monsters kicking and screaming into the real world. No longer are you wandering around Viridian City or Lavender Town searching for digital monsters, with Pokémon Go you can search for them in Birmingham or Croydon, or indeed, anywhere else in the world.

People adore it, but according to some people, it’s bringing about the downfall of civilisation. Footage of Central Park being swarmed by people trying to catch a single Vaporeon is being used as an indication that people are suffering from some kind of collective madness and that society is doomed.

And I mean, what about the muggings, eh? Teens in Manchester robbing players of their phones at knifepoint, and arrests in Missouri as armed robbers attempting to lure players to them through the app. One girl, on her attempt to find a Poliwag or something, came across a dead body, and there were rumours about someone witnessing a murder (although, to be clear, citation needed on that one). The NSPCC even wanted the UK launch to be delayed because they saw the app as a way for children to be lured away by pedophiles lurking in the shadows.

How can they live with themselves knowing all of this? How can their executives sleep at night, knowing the damage they’ve caused? How can they justify any of their actions?

Well, enough about the national press, and let’s get back to Pokémon Go, because while, yes, there are dangers to wandering the streets with an expensive smartphone in your hand (which we all should know, come on now), Pokémon Go brings about a number of positive aspects, and it’s these that I feel are the app’s main draw.

And friends, Pokémon Go has offered a solution to one of my biggest problems.

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As readers and followers of my work are fairly aware of at this point, I have suffered from depression and social anxiety for many years. It’s something I’ve always felt uncomfortable talking about in the past, but I feel I should be more open about now as I work to heal and improve. One of the side effects of this problem is that I’ve become quite reclusive over the years. At university, I used to walk a lot, and explore, but over the years this dropped off as I felt I had no purpose while out, and this tended to compound my depression, not heal it.

This year has been my attempt to claw myself back from the worst aspects of these problems, and wanting to get out more and explore more again has always been an issue that I’ve never been clear on how to solve. That is, until the release of Pokémon Go.

Pokémon Go makes me want to leave the house. I want to catch ‘em all. Be the very best, like no one ever was, and all that. And the only way I can do that with Pokémon Go is to take walks. And taking walks is exactly what I have been doing.

While it’s not turned me into a social butterfly (yet!), it’s certainly helped get me more exercise, fresh air and sunlight, which are all good things. But while naysayers act like people walking around with their heads in their phones is causing people to engage less with the world, my experience has been the exact opposite. I have learned more about my local area in the past few days than I have in the entire time I’ve lived here.

Through my Pokéwalks, I’ve discovered a small local nature walk because every single trail marker is a Pokéstop, I’ve encountered public art I didn’t even know existed, and taken trips down side roads to find places I’d never have otherwise discovered. Pokémon Go has helped turn me into a tourist in my own neighbourhood, and it’s fantastic. I’m engaging more with the world than ever before in mere days, and I can see this only strengthening as I use the app in areas outside my immediate walking sphere (my trip to London in August is going to be very interesting). I’ve also found great amusement that my day job is a gym, giving me more enthusiasm to go to work so I can claim the place for my team on a permanent basis.

So I will not hear a bad word said against Pokémon Go. Sure, there are a few hiccups in its design that could do with some serious ironing out, but thanks to this app, I’ve got out the house more, discovered more and engaged more. It’s done wonders for my general mood, and my fitness. And for me, that’s a success.

Also, I literally just caught a Meowth in my office before I posted this. So I’m even happier. Dat’s right!

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  1. shallowthinking
    July 18, 2016 at 5:43 pm

    Reblogged this on Shallow Thinking.

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