Pokémon Go has been out for a couple of weeks now, most of the bugs seem close to being fixed, and it seems about time to write on it from a biblical worldview. I think that when things happen that affect massive amounts of people, even to the point of crossing generational barriers, we act a bit strangely. It’s as if we forget that these are individual people, taking a far too generalized approach and lumping every person who participates in whatever activity is being discussed into one lump like the leftover meat in a hotdog . What helps me to put things into perspective is to think of how one particular person may be affected by the product in question. Since I happen to be a person, I will write from the perspective of a Christ-following, nerdy one.
If you’ve read my blog much at all, you know I’m a list guy, and I’m going to stick with that here by going the “pros and cons” route. But I will list this one as “potential pros” and “potential cons” because not everyone will do all of the good or all of the bad. One final thing before jumping into the lists: I believe that things that are not either forbidden or commanded in some form by Scripture fall into a neutral category; that is, able to be used for good or evil. If you don’t believe me, just look at the Internet. Here we go:
- It’s fun. In a world where we seem to determine our importance based on how busy we are , something like this doesn’t make lists all that often. We need things to help us relax from time to time.
- It gets people moving. While there are loads of people seeming to think that chasing these digital creatures is the cure to obesity in the world, I take a bit more of a hopeful viewpoint. This game definitely has potential for getting people to move more (the word “go” is even in the name). I actually ran the other day, which is extremely rare, in order to finish hatching an egg. I say “hopeful,” though, because moving more doesn’t always happen. We like to hack things. Driving under 20 MPH seems to do the same things as walking, and there are already people who have figured out how to play without moving! One added benefit, though, is that it is a little more motivation to go back out if you forgot something. Maybe you will catch that Raichu!
- It can help you meet people. “Pokétops” are myriad (if you live in the right places), and people hang out there. If you go to one and see a person staring at their phone tapping and swiping like they’re trying to fling a booger off, chances are they’re playing, and you have an instant conversation starter about something you share in common.
- A lot of “Pokéstops” are churches. This has potential to be extremely useful. Flocks of strangers showing up at all hours of the day and night to get “revives” and Pokéballs? I’ll take that. If the church I pastored was a stop, I’d buy several lures in the game, cast them at certain times of the day, and get some volunteers from the church to stand outside and hand out cookies or something for people to eat while they wait for Pokémon to show up. While they are hanging out, I’d look for opportunities to talk (without being a creeper looking in car windows and such).
- It can be incredibly distracting. I have definitely caught myself (and been caught by my wife, who does play as well) looking at it while important things are happening around me. If you choose to play it, I would definitely suggest setting some limits. Maybe “no Pokémon after I get home.” It can also take up too much time if you allow it. Fun is definitely helpful in life, but too much time dedicated to it, especially to the neglect of other things, is not good. As with everything, we have to keep our priorities right. Don’t look up and realize you’ve time-warped two hours into the future.
- If used irresponsibly, it can be unsafe. People have already been in car wrecks and fallen off of cliffs while staring at their phones. This is not new, but it is alarming. We must be present in the world around us, as Jesus modeled. We also can’t ignore the fact that people could use things things like lures maliciously.
- It wreaks havoc on your phone battery. This thing can literally take an IPhone 6 Plus battery to within an inch of its life in less than two hours. This can take from more important things, like staying in touch with people and trolling Facebook (jkjkjk).
After looking at the pros and cons, I truly think that whether you should play or not is dependent on who you are. Romans 14:23 tells us that it is wrong to do anything that we cannot do in faith. That means that if you have doubts about whether the Lord would have you play his, you shouldn’t. Wise decisions are often shown to be wise based on what results from them. If playing Pokemon makes you neglect your family and run up your car insurance, it probably wasn’t a good decision to start playing it. But if it gets you out of the house more, helps you meet new people, and possibly even presents some chances to talk about Jesus to those who need Him (all of us), then just maybe it’s worth it.
Let me know what potential pros and cons you find!
Be relentless (if you’re Team Mystic).