Pokemon Go: Maturity and Masculinity
I remember waking up in the fall of last year. I turned over and checked my social media accounts as usual, and that is when I first saw a trailer for Pokemon Go. I was excited as soon as I saw it. It has taken the world by storm and is quickly becoming one of the most popular apps available. It has been much more popular than Niantec, the company that created it, had anticipated and they’ve had issues with server overload. Surprisingly there has been a rather harsh and outspoken reaction to this game that reveals deeper issues within our society.
Even though the game is new, I’ve already seen many social media posts about it and those who play it. Some of these posts are positive, other are negative. The negative ones are the ones I’m going to discuss today. These reactions have revealed the attitudes that many people hold towards adults, particularly toward adult men.
There is a harmful myth that far too many men and boys in our society have been duped into believing. This myth is that in order to be a man or be masculine you must participate in certain activities or behave and talk in certain ways. If you deviate from this mythical golden standard of masculinity, those who haven’t will emasculate you. This is true in many sectors of society, but it has been blatantly obvious with Pokemon Go.
As you can see from the meme I’ve included there is this pervasive idea that to do something that isn’t viewed as masculine makes you less than a man. This is an unhealthy view of masculinity and can cause harm to boys and young men as they mature. It places pressure on a man to either conform to some rigid idea of manhood or be who he is and be demeaned. When it comes out in memes such as those I just shared or in words in the workplace or schoolyard it amounts to gender bullying. James Nielssen said it best when he tweeted, “Imagine having masculinity this fragile”.
This negative view of manhood has very close ties with how society views childhood and maturity because to some degree or another doing things that are deemed “childish” is tantamount to not being a man.
The contempt people have shown towards adults who choose to spend their free time playing this game is appalling. Some people need a wake-up call to the fact that video games are not just for children. Yes, there are video games made for children, but there are also movies made for children. No one is acting as if movies are only for children. Just like any other form of entertainment or media video games are made for all ages are therefore acceptable for people of all ages to enjoy.
Video games do not determine a person’s maturity level. Contrary to what some think they are not something that children will all just outgrow. We don’t expect people to outgrow other activities so why place such an unrealistic expectation upon adults who choose to spend their free time playing them? Video games are no more a waste of time than playing golf, watching television, spending time and money on your favorite sports team, reading a novel, or listening to music. If it’s acceptable to spend copious amounts of time and money on a sports franchise then it’s acceptable to do the same with video games. And unlike most video games, Pokemon Go has encouraged people to be more physically active; I know I have been.
These two unhealthy views of masculinity and maturity need to be actively dealt with in our society because talking this way towards and about people is not okay. Thankfully I do feel that our society has made some growth in these areas over the last decade, but there is always room for growth. Always remember, just because someone else’s leisure activity may not interest you it does not mean they are less mature or masculine.