My Pokemon Go Just Got Up and Went

That’s a stupid post title above.  And also inaccurate!

Being the proprietor of Digital Detachment, there’s no way I’d ever pick up and engage with Pokemon Go in the first place.

A time-waster like Pokemon Go is sheer poison to those of us interested in cultivating a digitally detached lifestyle.

Not only is Pokemon Go merely an “empty calories” distraction, offering no productive value or useful skill or relationship building opportunity, it also is an extensive corporate data mining operation aimed at capturing your precious attention and tracking your movements through physical space.

Pokemon Go was developed by a venture-backed firm called Niantic, which was spun out of Google during its Alphabet re-org.  The lead VC behind Niantic is Alsop Louie.  These folks aren’t just about spreading animated joy and fun to a stressed and disconnected world.

The makers of Pokemon Go want your attention and your data.

Take a look at the last two paragraphs of the Pokemon Go’s Wikipedia entry for a sense of the undercurrents roiling beneath the good-natured geo-gaming fun:

Safety concerns and controversy

Pokémon Go generated safety concerns mostly due to distraction during play and the ability for individuals to be lured to a certain real-life area by in-game rewards. On launch day, the Northern Territory Police, Fire and Emergency Services reminded players to “look up, away from your phone and both ways before crossing the street”.  The same day, while using the game, a player from the American state of Wyoming stumbled across a dead body that was floating in a river. Furthermore, the app has led players to congregate near strangers’ homes, as in the case when a Pokémon Gym was placed near a church converted to a house.  Other incidents include minor fall injuries and armed robberies.

Data security

Some iOS installs of Pokémon Go require users to provide the app with full access to their Google accounts, thereby allowing the app to “access players’ Gmail-based email, Google Drive based files, photos and videos stored in Google Photos, and any other content within their Google accounts.” The Pokemon Company and Niantic Labs responded to the concerns saying the iOS app “…erroneously requests full access permission for the user’s Google account…” and stated “Google will soon reduce Pokémon Go’s permission to only the basic profile data that Pokémon Go needs, and users do not need to take any actions themselves.”

Today seems to be the “peak” of the phenomenon, and we can likely expect it to fade away over the coming weeks and month, but be prepared for the next “iteration” that starts the hype cycle and “virality effects” all over again.

Meanwhile, I’ve successfully sat out Pokemon Go – like I have every other viral gimmick and “gamified” time-waster since … I believe it was Snood in the early 2000s.  I’m never getting those hours back.

And I’m not planning on donating any more of my precious hours of conscious attention to Pokemon Go or anything else like it.