# of TV interviews I gave in the last week about Pokémon GO: 3
# of TV interviews I gave in the last 3 years about Europe Code Week, a grassroots initiative I founded to promote thousands of coding events: 1
# of TV interviews I gave in the last 4 years about Rails Girls/Django Girls free programming workshops for women that I co-organized and have reached 2.000+ women in a country with a population of 2 million: 0
In some ways, I’m happy to see such a feel good topic as a cute-filled game making the news and getting people excited about walking, organizing events in their communities, learning about landmarks in their city. Then I remember that most of the news stories are about careless players getting into scary accidents. Oh no, Pokémon GO is killing people!
One of the first lessons I remember from a journalism course I took in college was: “A dog biting a man isn’t news, a man biting a dog is”. And boy, have we taken this principle to heart!
Sure, reading about a man biting a dog or people getting into accidents while distracted by their gadgets is surprising, and even mildly entertaining because you can feel superior to those other silly people in the news. Reading news like that is like eating junk food: enjoyable to eat, but leaves you feeling guilty or even extremely sad. Either way, it’s not something you need in your life.
And what is doing more damage: a fun game bringing people together in the real world or the fear spreading news cycle that gave us Brexit and Trump?
Sure, Pokémon GO is a distraction, bread and circuses for the masses. But the mainstream media has turned into an even bigger circus (alas, inadvertently aided by technology). So don’t complain about how Pokémon GO is the end of the world while you also feed the fear-driven news monster with your clicks and shares.
Here’s a challenge: find some news that actually matters and that doesn’t leave you feeling like shit. Like the ozone hole healing thanks to environmental policies of the past 30 years. Or SpaceX figuring out rocket reusability, so we can become a multi-planetary species.
And when you do get upset about something, get upset over things that matter, and over matters in which your voice of concern makes a difference. Like Net Neutrality. Racism. Our only planet heating up. There’s so many important issues to discuss, so many big problems to solve, and I really don’t think Pokémon GO is one of the things you should be worrying about right now.
And just like Pokémon GO is again making us more aware of our local communities, I hope to see the day when the news media starts telling us more stories of great events and initiatives happening in our local communities. Less of “you won’t believe what this celebrity said about that other celebrity” or “Pokémon GO player doesn’t pay attention”, and more of “young girl creates app that helps her local community”. And let’s not forget that we, as readers, can also do our part by seeking out and sharing the little stories that matter and the big stories that help us grow. Use your clicks wisely.