How Pokemon GO Made Me A Better Human Being

I'm not going to split hairs here — I'm overall a pretty terrible person. My friends say it, my fiancee says it, and if it wasn't for my loveable self deprecating attitude and social media related skills I'd say there was a solid chance of me ending up dying alone, while pantsless and eating doritos. I'm not saying I'm an evil mastermind, or the next big dictator — I'm just your run-of-the-mill shit person. Which is arguably worse, because I don't get my own Wikipedia page.

Something happened yesterday though, that has significantly improved my outlook on life. It hasn't even been 48 hours, yet I feel my soul afire with the kind of self improvement that you can only get on a premium Jenny Craig subscription or one of those crazy neuro linguistic programming camps. That thing, my friends, is something you may have also experienced — The Pokemon GO Phenomenon.

Image: Supplied

It has made me leave the house

I'm that kind of friend that tells you that they're running late for a social event because of who they are as a person, rather than any generic excuse. I've gone so far past the point of "lol, I stay at home in my pyjamas and watch Netflix" that if it weren't for the windows in my office at work, I would actually be concerned that I hadn't seen sunlight in months. There comes a point at which it stops being cute, and starts being a medical condition. I'd like to think I am a master of walking that line.

The fact that I live in the city of Melbourne, a city that is so purportedly amazing and filled with discoveries around each corner, makes it even more ridiculous. The irony is not lost on me. I genuinely saw more of this city while as a tourist, and I work literally next to Hosier Lane, arguably one of the most iconic laneways down here.

The first day I downloaded it, I decided to take a cheeky walk down to Nando's for lunch. I caught a Growlithe out the front while I was waiting for my chicken. This is good, I thought. It left a great taste in my mouth (similar to, but not quite chicken) and I craved more. So I decided to take the long way back. Long story short I ended up lost in a random laneway surrounded by what I assume was a tour group taking photos of things that weren't screenshots of the Pokemon they were trying to catch. Jokes on them, shit's wayy more interesting when there are AR Pokemon chilling in the shot.

Turns out there's a park next to my house, who knew? There's even something called an Arboretum around the corner from me. I'm not sure how to pronounce it, but it has loads of Pokemon in it.

I'm exercising for the first time in years

Every Pokestop is another hit of a pixellated AR crack pipe. I just need one more. The problem (or, for the purposes of this story, benefit) of this is that in the Melbourne CBD, there are roughly seventy billion Pokestops. They’re bloody everywhere. Once I get an incubator for the 237 eggs I currently have, I think I'm going to have to exercise… regularly.

I'm not alone on this one either. My entire Twitter timeline was filled with people mad that they accidentally exercised! The Gall! The humanity! If the government wants to tackle obesity in a meaningful way, forget taxing sugar, they just need to legislate that all smartphones need to come with Pokemon GO preinstalled on them.

It has made me hate other people slightly less

Like all children of the internet, I've grown up harboring a mild hatred for my fellow human being that is only assuaged by cute stories about abandoned kittens being rescued. Today, someone dropped a lure at my tram stop and I would have legitimately given them a hug if I knew who it was. It feels like everywhere I look, there are stories about people meeting other human beings in REAL LIFE by both discovering they were playing Pokemon GO in the same vicinity as each other. I guess it's kind of easy to pick the asshole running around with a phone in front of them, but that doesn’t change the fact that everywhere around me there are human beings connecting in real life over something that exists online. That only happens at PAX and those kind of scary looking card game tournaments outside Gametraders on Saturdays.

Being social isn't something that comes naturally to a lot of nerds, but Pokemon GO is bringing out the sociable nature that we all secretly have deep down.

It helped me with my anxiety (no, seriously)

Okay but to be serious for a second, it actually did. I suffer from crippling anxiety that hits me at its hardest when I'm packed onto public transport surrounded by strangers. My daily commute takes an hour and is for me, on some days, the worst kind of hell you could possibly imagine.

With Pokemon GO, instead of hyperventilating in a corner, I actually caught Pokemon off people's shoulders. This afternoon I actually looked forward to getting on the train, something that I can confirm has quite literally never happened in my entire life.

This started as a bit of a laugh, but at the end of writing this I've kind of realised that this is not really just an exaggeration for comical purposes sprinkled with amusing anecdotes. I'm not sure whether its the fact that this game finally delivers on what was every 10 year old's wet dream in the 90's; or whether the combination of nostalgia and augmented reality hits a sweet spot; but I can forsee many more months ahead of solid Pokemon catching for me. And the fact that it legitimately seems to be getting me out of my general solid-mass-on-the-couch state can only mean good things.

GGWP, Pokemon Go.


    last para sounds like social anxiety? good to hear the app helps. Its kinda helping get me out doors more too.

    I started a local pokemon go page and got over 120 memebers in 36 hrs and its not the biggest place, surprising how much people are into it.

      It's everywhere. I see about 20 different people playing this game each time I have a session.

    I feel ya on the anxiety thing!

    I get a bit weird on the bus some mornings - not being able to get off due to it being an express, and other people... ughhhh OTHER PEOPLE! - not noticed it since playing Pokemon Go

    well done on getting out the house. that in itself will help release the endorphin and serotonin you need to combat the anxiety and by sounds of it, some depression mixed in there too.
    keep it up!

    I'm a girl, and my therapist agrees that Pokemon Go has had a positive effect on my anxiety. :)

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