Columnist explores the stigma behind activities like Pokémon Go

By Katie Zhao, ’19

I proudly confess that I play Pokémon Go every day. Given that confession, do you already have a mental picture of me? What boxes will I tick off in your mind, the one marked “weird nerd,” or maybe “painfully antisocial”? Perhaps a dash of “middle-aged creeper driving slowly in a van around a park”?

Not the last one though, as I can’t drive yet. Point is, it’s common for people to associate certain pursuits with both negative and positive qualities.

Take person A. Do they have an Instagram filled with cutesy fall pics? They’re probably someone who likes pumpkin spice lattes and lifting pithy quotes to slap a truckload of emojis on. Are they in Marching Band or Crew? They’re members of a cult then, and you’ll have to roll your eyes whenever they speak because every other word will be a mention of their activity (as if they haven’t already told us like a thousand times). See someone with dyed hair? They probably have an unhealthy obsession with doodling anime or manga characters. Ouch. It hurts to type this out, but those are some of the conclusions I may jump to when I meet someone. A split second after thinking this, my brain drop-kicks itself for being so judgmental. Who am I to assume someone’s entire life story off of a single activity of theirs?

While there are people who do fit into the stereotypes, not being open to reinterpretation limits our views and interactions with others. The people we meet are only one-dimensional if we cannot see past one facet of their life into the bigger picture.

It is true, however, that I continue to die a little inside whenever someone asks “Why are you still playing Pokemon Go?” after watching me making a beeline from point A to B while swiping furiously on my phone. I choose to explain to them that I play Pokémon Go for reasons like exercise and social interaction, the least of which include loitering around creepily in a park. I can explain the mechanics behind the mass gatherings of players (maybe it’s an in-game “raid” or a “Community Day”) and still manage to talk about other topics. I hope that they can see that Pokémon Go, no matter how much I love sprinting for that wild Snorlax or wandering around aimlessly with friends after school, is only one patch in the complex quilt of my life.