Pokemon Go: Have We Finally Amused Ourselves to Death?


In 1985, a social critic named Neal Postman, in the introduction to his book Amusing Ourselves to Death, compared two famous dystopian visions: 1984 by George Orwell and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.  He noted that though many people thought their visions were similar, Huxley and Orwell had very different theories about how people would eventually lose their freedoms.

Orwell thought it would be Big Brother, the all-watching, all-powerful state.  Now certainly, in the age of the NSA and TSA, it sounds like he may have been on to something.

But Postman thought Huxley was the one who got it right.  Here’s how he put it:

“What Orwell feared were those who would ban books.  What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, because there would be no one who wanted to read one.  Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information.  Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism.  Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us.  Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance.  Orwell feared we would become a captive culture.  Huxley feared we could become a trivial culture…As Huxley remarked in “Brave New World Revisited,” the civil libertarians and rationalists ever on the alert to oppose tyranny failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.”

In 1984, people are controlled by inflicting pain.  In Brave New World, they were controlled by inflicting pleasure.  In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us.  Huxley feared what we love will ruin us.  “My book,” Postman then concluded, “is about the possibility that Huxley was right, not Orwell.”  And perhaps nothing has so vindicated Postman’s take on American culture like Pokemon Go, a game in which users capture, battle, and train mythical creatures.  Already it has more users than Tindr and even Twitter.

The upside is that this game take users outdoors to look for Pokemon, around cities and town, even fields, using their phones’ GPS and camera.  The downside is that though outdoors, users are still staring at screens, oblivious to the world in which they’re searching, not to mention to other people.

As should have been imagined, there have been casualties.  A couple of weekends ago, hundreds of gamers fought off traffic heading into Central Park, when a particularly elusive Pokemon was spotted there.  A couple of weeks ago, two men fell off a cliff near San Diego playing the game.  Others have been stabbed, robbed, beaten up and shot at by those taking advantage of the unaware users.

As a San Diego Sheriff’s Department spokesman said, “People need to realize this is just a game.  It’s not worth your life.  No game is worth your life.”

Neil Postman’s warning in Amusing Ourselves to Death, however, went further than that.  He warned that we were becoming a silly culture, addicted to distraction, without the ability to prefer the good, the true, and the beautiful to the trivial, the meaningless, and the titillating.  Such a culture, he thought, would be easily taken captive by the inability to discern what’s truly important.

And in perhaps the ultimate indictment on our culture, the Arlington National Cemetery and the Holocaust Museum issued appeals two weeks ago that users not search for Pokemon at these hallowed sites of remembrance.  The fact that it even needed to be said only affirms Postman’s prophecy.

Look, I was a kid once, so I get it on one level.  Games are fun and Pokemon Go is pretty cool.  So if your kids are playing it, don’t panic.  But if they’re addicted to perpetual distraction, it’s time to intervene.  If you, as a parent see that it is becoming a problem, but don’t do anything to control it, you are ultimately responsible for whatever comes as a result of it.  I think it is time that parents take a stand and declare enough is enough.  I’m not saying that we need to ban our children from all technology, but the unlimited use of technology by our kids, without parental supervision is just asking for trouble.  I submit that the next generation could actually be dulling themselves to sleep from reality.  Perhaps they are even amusing themselves to death.

About wmarsau

Most of the people who visit this blog already know me so it is kind of pointless to try to describe my life in this short little blurb. What is the purpose of this blog is the question. Over the course of this last year I have been exposed to some amazing people and have made personal development an important focus of my life. Being successful, not by the world's standards, but by God's has become my main focus. Mainly, I want to work to develop myself as a person who is kinder, reaches out to help those in need, and truly makes a difference in this world. To this end I am constantly reading and am exposed to so many differnet things along the way. These have been amazing and it is helping me grow so much. Then I started to think, "Why am I being so selfish?" You need to share with others these amazing things you are learning and being exposed to. That is where this blog comes into play. As I am reading and experiencing things that are truly amazing and life changing, I will be posting them on this blog. Obviously, I will not be able to post everything in it's entirity, but I will be summarizing them and letting you know the source of the article or book they come from so you can check them out later if you wish. I want this blog to be a place where you can go to often and be inspired and leave here with a smile on your face. I will be covering all kinds of different topics dealing with success and personal development. Topics like taking action, relationships, living to your potential, reinventing yourself, finances, leadership, presenting, goal setting, time management, etc. I will also be occasionally including topics on cooking, music, and gardening because they are special interests of mine. As a little disclaimer, I have given my life to the Lord and he is #1 in my life. I am his servant and everything I do in life is for his glory. With that being said, religion influences all areas of my life. There will be references to God in this blog because I can't seperate God from this or any other area of my life. I want you to know that if you do not believe in God, that is fine. That is your choice. This blog is open to anyone who wants to better their life. I will not be trying to influence or pressure anyone into having a relationship with the Lord from this site. Please don't feel uncomfortable. You can just read the portions of the blog that you wish to. I am inviting you to go on a journey with me. We will learn together to be the kind of people we were designed to be. Anyone can make a difference in this world, but it starts%
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