Pokémon Go makes me wonder about Generation Y, which will surely be remembered as one of the most childish collectives of all time. I am part of this contingent of people born in the 1980s and 1990s – the offspring of the baby boomers – characterised as a digitally-savvy cohort, among other things.
We have been an incredibly lucky lot, thrust into a technological renaissance of sorts – where computing breakthroughs take place all the time. But in spite of this evolution, young people have slowed down. We have become self-indulgent, silly and reluctant to grow up. We are the Peter Pan Generation.
At least, that’s what the mobile game Pokémon Go suggests to me, which invites people to trawl the streets with their phones for imaginary characters. Pokémon, if you didn’t know, is a huge Nintendo franchise, created in the nineties. The original video game was spun out into a cartoon series, both of which became cult hits.
Pokémon was the bane of my childhood. With three brothers, it became impossible to escape the franchise. I didn’t get it; I felt too old for a brand based around cuddly animals and moved onto more sophisticated pursuits such as Emmerdale. I genuinely believed that my generation would get over Pokémon – that there would be a collective ‘growing up’ – but I was wrong. Data shows that 49 percent of Pokémon Go users are 25 or over.
Of course, Pokémon Go is not the only mobile game young people are obsessed with. Candy Crush Saga is another popular, incredibly pointless, application. Such games are viewed as ‘a bit of fun’ – a nice distraction from the world. After all, who thinks about Isis when they’re searching for Pokémon? But I can see a wider issue about Generation Y and its obsessions; a huge denial about being adults. Frankly, it’s all a bit sad.
The trouble with all these baby hobbies is that they distract twentysomethings from doing something good with their lives. And, I know, we all deserve to have downtime and can even turn passions, like gaming, into a career. But for many young people, these enterprises become hugely absorbing, and steal the best years of their lives. The irony is that they will not know that this is happening; franchises with cute, sweet animals come across as harmless and nostalgic.
As a generation, we need to grow up. The world is becoming a more frightening, competitive place all the time; it has never been more important for young people to buck up, get some skills, even set up their own businesses, instead of indulging in the toys and franchises we should have left behind years ago.
The strange thing about all of these pursuits is that young people take pride in them. They think it’s funny to be trivial. It’s ironic, they say. In reality, it seems ignorant. Girlfriends complain to me about men who won’t commit in relationships; it’s no wonder, given that they live in a society that wants to immortalise childhood. Pokémon Go isn’t a bit of fun; it is the enemy of industry. And one day, I suspect, Generation Y will start to wonder why they let it rule their lives.