When you first open Pokémon Go, you get a friendly reminder to be alert at all times and stay aware of your surroundings. That warning includes being aware of the people around you. Are you trying to catch a Mankey at your grandfather's funeral? You may find joy in catching a rare Pokémon during such a solemn occasion, but there are others in the room that you should consider, as well.
The uncomfortable truth
We've all heard about how officials at the Holocaust Museum in Washington and the Auschwitz Memorial in Poland are asking people to stop playing Pokémon Go while in those hallowed buildings. We've all seen the picture of the grieving family saying good-bye to a loved one with a Pidgey in the foreground.
There are times when we should be reflecting on life, acknowledging the past, and learning about humanity. As humorous as you may think it is to catch a Ghastly at a wake, there may be a dozen people whose hearts are breaking at your flippant behavior.
Pokémon Go is fun; it may even be addictive. But do you want to be that person that Aunt Sally remembers 20 years from now as the one that wouldn't put down that video game while she was burying her beloved husband?
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying you shouldn't visit your local cemetery for a Pokémon adventure. My city has a beautiful cemetery that is hundreds of years old and is rich in history. I visit it a few times per year just because it's so interesting; I also went on a Poké Walk there the other day. In between looting PokéStops for potions and Poké Balls, I read the headstones of people that lived 100 years ago, and soaked in the beautiful architecture.
The point is obvious
That's kind of the point, too: When Niantic created Ingress four years ago, one of the goals the developers had was to get people outside walking and learning about points-of-interest around their town. Pokémon Go has the same goal. You're supposed to actually stop and look at the real-world statues and murals that are designated as PokéStops and Gyms.
What I didn't do during my cemetery Poké Walk was interrupt anyone else in the area who might have been visiting a passed loved one. Even if there was a rare Pokémon nearby, I avoided the area out of respect. There are times when we should think about the feelings of those around us and put down the game if there is even a possibility that it might upset someone.
The decision to play Pokémon Go at inappropriate places and times is representative of the larger problem in this age of mobile devices. We've all behaved improperly at some point with our phones, whether we're responding to a text while driving or checking Facebook while at the dinner table. We have become accustomed to this type of conduct and justify doing it because everyone else does.
Pokémon Go is simply magnifying what we are already doing wrong in social situations. We've become so attached to our phones that we don't pay attention to what's going on around us. It's not just that we should stop catching Pokémon at memorials dedicated to thousands of people who lost their lives. It's that perhaps we should think about the way our actions affect other people, and focus on being present, with them, instead of staring at yet another screen.
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Lory is a renaissance woman, writing news, reviews, and how-to guides for iMore. She also fancies herself a bit of a rock star in her town and spends too much time reading comic books. If she's not typing away at her keyboard, you can probably find her at Disneyland or watching Star Wars (or both).