Get enough people involved in something and one of them will be a bit silly.
As the video game craze Pokémon Go spreads across the world, millions are joining in, so the potential for silliness is unbounded. That potential is being realised.
Here’s how it works: download the app on your phone (preferably after your country’s launch, although the impatient found illegal ways to get it early) and use it to collect characters of various types.
This is done by pointing the phone camera at real places – parks, buildings, streets – to reveal the animated critters, then, in a virtual way, throwing a ball to trap them. Then you make them fight.
It’s called augmented reality and gamers know it’s not new. But this addictive app has people roaming random locations looking for Pokémon, with bizarre results.
In rural Wyoming, a 19-year-old woman was trying to trap a water character and instead discovered a dead body. A Texas man collected a “pocket monster” from the bed where his wife was giving birth. Another man found his Massachusetts home was accidentally designated a Pokémon “gym” by noticing a crowd of game players outside his window one morning.
Admittedly, people have been asked to stop playing the game at Auschwitz. There’s been at least one serious car crash involving a driver playing Pokémon Go. And the app has been used to lure victims for the purposes of robbing them.
But it’s not all bad. Here in Canada, we’re discovering that Go is leading people to new parts of their communities. One interviewee in Ottawa confessed to visiting Parliament for the first time in the hope of trapping Pokémon.
Of course, it’s just the latest craze. Pretty soon it’ll be some new thing, like three-legged trousers or tattooing a picture of your face on your face. People are like that.
I might condemn them as sheep but there’s something heartwarming about the way we embrace the latest thing. I mostly dislike humans but we are, at heart, a silly species and we should celebrate it. I love the way we are fundamentally daft.
Well, except Brexit. That’s just stupid.