Where to begin with a topic such as this, the goings against of the Natural Mother and all the awful importance hitherto related? Perhaps it is just to label oneself the “old soul” he is so as to honestly identify the diminishing perspective you presently consume.
If it is not too difficult to imagine, think of a time when children played under the sun, and in which the mysteries of our universe seemed infinite in their riddle. Imagine, too, the pulsing of a people unknowingly infertile, and hence presumably sound of health and mind despite their part in The Decline of the West. The worst of modernity had not yet sank its fangs into us, and for those old enough to remember, we lived in what could very well be the last days of the natural world.
This same natural world I attempted to obtain glimpses of from time to time. And so I had become habituated to visiting a small park to my liking, replete with a manmade pond bisected by a tiny pedestrian bridge, wherein waterfowl aplenty never ceased to stir. The park was surrounded by little more than ugly roadways and a large parking lot to one side, its pond’s shore dotted with southerly trees that offered much needed shelter from the sun during the brutal summer heat. It was a place I had frequented at off times while waiting on another to free herself of her daily routine. Often I would be the place’s sole occupant save for its birds, squirrels, lizards and turtles. But, all of this simple splendour was in for a shock.
Starting somewhat close to two weeks ago, the tiny greenspace became quite busy, teaming, in fact, with people of all sorts. At first glance one might suspect a junior instructor of having suggested to his class that they hold discussion outdoors, a university being not too terribly far. There, however, was a problem to this suspicion: there was no instructor to be seen. Their numbers, day after day, would run between fifteen and thirty. Never would they cease to be there, yet their mass was in a constant state of self-replenishment. As some would randomly up and leave, others would drift in from all angles to the point where their tiny organization of humanity appeared to seethe.
Laughing to myself, I quickly surmised the cause of these new presences. But a confirmation was to be sought, and shortly after obtained. The Pokémon GO players had found a new hotspot, and it just so happened to be where I frequented to view some little bit of nature. Their presence seems, through to this day, to be of a new permanence unsettling to the esthete. And, the one from whom I inquired cast at myself a warning that matters should likely continue in similar fashion for some time to come. Of this I harbour little doubt.
Adding to my genuine displeasure with newly met park attendees, I learned of players who had sought their fictional prizes at Holocaust museums and memorials, and at Civil War battlefields. I should note that these places which have had their soils, their clays, soaked by the blood of history now find themselves to be frequented by mindless defilers. Perhaps equally disturbing is their manner: that of holding out before them a cellular over which they constantly hunch whether walking or seated, couples strolling side by side speaking not to each other so as to maintain focus on their respective handheld devices, and the candid indifference to the physical world about them that these automatons exhibit.
Proponents of this “brave new world” would argue that the technology is a miracle which unites all of humanity. To this assertion one must give pause for contemplation.
It is true that these apps bring people of diverse backgrounds seemingly together for a common cause. Yet, one could argue the merits of this “togetherness” given that these people minimize interaction, and mostly seek similar vicinity rather than socialization. Other arguments include the outdoor phenomenon of the Pokémon GO app. This, to the present writer, is more troubling than promising. In our society, within a several week span, we have witnessed these zombified players meandering around their new found world, but only in a daze devoid of meaning.
The applications, individually speaking, and powerful though they are, are transitory at best. It is what they embody, and the power they manifest, which should send chills down the spines of traditionalists. Already, something which did not exist a couple of months ago has taken permanent root and will likely cause our world to never again be the same. This entirely new Pokémon GO “phenomenon” may very likely cause videogame players to cluster together all over public outdoor spaces from now until the end of days. Of course these clusterings will not forever be under the banner of Pokémon GO, but will likely persist through new apps and games possibly for the rest of our lives. Public spaces, forests, sidewalks, may never be the same again.
The power of the application, I should make note of, has already been displayed by apps such as Uber and Airbnb. Both of these have, as we have witnessed, caused massive upheavals throughout, not only the United States, but the entire world. An American invents an app, and all of a sudden taxi drivers in Mumbai are forced to mass protest for their livelihoods; an American invents an app, and the hotel industry takes major hits while people around the globe rent out their homes to strangers out of financial desperation. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, it must be said that such seismic upheavals have never been so easily produced on a global scale. As these drastic changes are effecting all of us, whether we like it or not, one can easily develop the assumption that all of this “progress” is inevitable, and that the echoings of globalism and multiculturalism seem not entirely unconnected to the flourishing of this technology.
So it is with trepidation that I will continue to sit beneath the oaks and watch the strange new fauna that now occupy the little park. Will they always be there en masse, faces hung down low to their devices? I had realised, while watching several of them walk, without noticing, past a beautiful pair of large cranes, the power this new technology has to indoctrinate an entire generation worldwide over a mere span of weeks. It could be that somehow this power of interconnectivity could be harnessed for societal good; but this remains only a possibility, and one should not fail to view the passing of the world we had known until recently as a thing to be lamented.