Feeding the body: Pokemon Go

Whether for or against, people tend to have strong opinions about Pokémon Go. For those who have not somehow heard about it yet, Pokémon Go is a new game developed to be played on smartphones. It was made by Nintendo, and designed by Niantic, Inc, and has sparked a new Pokémon craze (although the franchise never fully lost its following between its 1995 beginning and now.)

Each player creates an in-game avatar, which captures Pokémon (fictional friendly and hostile monsters), which can be trained and battled at in-game gyms. One of the feature which makes the game so controversial is the method of play—through Google and the phone’s GPS, the map that the avatars explore matches up with the player’s current surroundings. The player physically walking is a vital part of gameplay, as gyms and Pokéstops (in-game checkpoints where players can gather supplies) correspond with real-life landmarks. There are certain functions that can’t be completed without movement—and the game will not register when the GPS tracks the player’s speed as being that of a car, plane, etc.

This game has had some great effects. Because the game needs you to physically move, more and more people are getting out into their communities, and getting more and more walking and biking time in. And duh, walking = better all-around physical and mental health. Health care professionals and mental illness patients are also reporting vast improvements with depression, anxiety disorders such as agoraphobia, and autism among others. Ever since meeting and getting involved with DF, autism especially has been a subject close to my heart. It’s wonderful how many parents are reporting direct connections between Pokémon Go and increases in their children’s social skills and mental flexibility. Here and here are a few of the articles I’ve seen

However, with every good thing comes people who will find ways to cheat, or take it to unhealthy extremes (wouldn’t that make a great t-shirt slogan??) People are finding ways to get around the walking requirement by using pets and moving toys. Since the game can be so addictive while potentially causing players to lose track of what is happening around them, people have been documented as being injured or killed by falling off cliffs and into rivers. Players have also been robbed, had car accidents, and suffered illness resulting from sun overexposure. There are too many cases to individually list–it seems like every day brings up a fresh crop in the media outlets from Buzzfeed to the TV news–but here is a good article, from The Atlantic, that I used while writing this post.

Now, all that being said, I do have pretty mixed feelings…

When my brother and I were pre-teens, there was a pretty major Pokémon craze among our peers. I was never a rabid Pokémon fan. My brother and I watched the TV show, and half-heartedly collected pogs when they were given out in Dorito bags. As an adult, I tend to look on Pokémon affectionately while remembering the good old days. So when I recently downloaded Pokémon Go, it was mainly just to get a sense of what exactly everyone is talking about for myself, not to fervently catch them all.

I’ve had it since Saturday, I think. Some players reported that the game was requesting FULL access to their Gmail accounts (including email and history). To be safe, I created a new Gmail account specifically for the purpose. The day or two after I got it I had some trouble signing in—it wasn’t wanting to recognize my GPS or load. Whatever the reason, it’s been working fine the last few days and I’ve been finding that it’s pretty fun!

I usually struggle with getting enough exercise. While it may just be because the game’s still new and novel to me, I’ve gotten out of the house and been on several walks in the last two days. I live close to a parky type area which has many stops and gyms. It’s been fun discovering what different features, and discovering what the developers/Googlemaps deemed significant enough to qualify as a Pokéstop.

Since I don’t want to end up like one of those people who walks into traffic or anything while on my phone, I took (and take) precautions. I make absolute sure to look up from my phone for a decent amount of time every few seconds. I look at things I am passing. I take note of cicadas, and the sound of running water. When I was walking through the park area, I would regularly sit down and visually enjoy the beauty of my surroundings, even turning the game off for a few minutes.

I also turned off the option to connect my phone’s camera to the game. This means that instead of seeing a cute little critter perched in that big oak tree down the road, they appear against a cartoony background. I suspect this makes it easier to dissociate myself from the virtual reality. Reminding myself that every second I’m playing, I’m also burning through data helps too.

Playing Pokémon Go gives me a kick to get off the couch and do something different. Getting outside changes my surroundings, and temporarily distracts me from my worries, anxieties and apathy. Although catching pretend monsters is not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, it is a gentle and immediate thing to care about. It’s been cool to realize how many of the creature names I remember from childhood—I also remember the lyrics and tune to the original theme song! I’m also a bit less scornful of the people who get SO into the game they barely look up from their phones.

That actually sounds like a good closing point actually. Pokémon Go can be great, but don’t let it take over your life. Keep at least trying to find other things to get you up in the morning, to catch and keep your interest. Evolve, train, and battle your Pokémon, but don’t forget that it is also important to evolve and train your body, soul, and interests as a valuable, individual, and unique person! Trust me, I’m speaking from experience here!

You are worth it.

Much love.

Stay in the swing, stay in the swing…

One of my cousins got married last night. It was fun, and a lovely, small event, but we had to drive about an hour and a half each way to get there, and we ended up getting home at around 1 last night. Waaay past this girl’s bedtime! I had to wake up earlyish for a doctor’s appointment today so the amount of  sleep I got left something to be desired. Reeeally not feeling like posting right now, but I know I’m going to regret it if I don’t–so easy for non-posting inertia to take over. Plus, there are a few things to note…

Had an appointment with Dr. Gutimov, my GI, today to discuss the results of some bloodwork and an ultrasound I had done a month or so ago…all clear! The ultrasound was to test for fatty liver, which apparently can be one of the common complications of IBD. According to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America, two of the symptoms of liver disease can be low energy and fatigue, so I suppose it’s good to know that my liver’s in good shape.

While I never was one to get many headaches growing up, I’ve gotten some really bad one over the last year. You know, the kind where your brain feels like it’s sloshing around when you move, and you can’t sleep because your pillow feels like a rock. Those headaches usually went away after a day and a half or so, but last week I developed one that was lasting over 4 days. I went to my regular family doctor and she diagnosed…a migraine! I’d actually researched migraines after having suspicions with some of  the previous headaches, but ruled it out because I did not really see floaties, or have sensitivity to light. According to my doctor, not everyone has those though. I need to make another appointment though, because she said she expected the pain to go away by its self within another day or so, and although the grand majority has, I still have some head pressure and slight nausea.

I’ve got a few posts on migraines in the works, which I am going to try posting this week. I started freewriting them longhand while I was avoiding computer screens while my head was raging last week, and they need serious editing, but goals.

So, although this post is not a great work of literature either, but at least it’s a thing I got done during my lack-of-sleep-haze! Yay!

Finding the Inconspicuous Awesome

As I was walking back from the bus stop I cut through the grounds of a public school that actually looks pretty cool–it’s got greenhouses and cool gardens for students to work with. Anyway, As I came up to a parking lot, I thought I saw a guy walking a bunch of labs or other medium-sized dogs. As I started to get closer, I realized that they were actually goats!! In the middle of the city! The man was making sure they stayed around a little picket-fenced garden surrounded on 3 sides by grass. I don’t know if they belong to the school, or if the guy rents the space, or what…but how cool! The goats were obviously pretty contented, eating grass and rubbing their horns on a little tree. As I passed by one raised its head to watch me intently, but on the whole they responded well to their keeper when he called them over.

I haven’t been around goats for SO long, and the whole thing cheered me up a little bit!