There are two phrases that have stuck in my mind recently in regards to people’s excitement about Pokémon Go — and the backlash I’ve seen against that excitement:
Don’t yuck someone’s yum.
Don’t harsh someone’s mellow.
First of all, I don’t play Pokémon Go. I’ve just never been that into Pokémon, and honestly I’ve got too many vidyagame hobbies already.
If you do play, though, I absolutely encourage you to love it with all your nerdy heart. (Although seriously guys, maybe don’t do it at the Holocaust Museum, or while driving). I don’t mind how much you post about it, and I’ll even look through your pictures and admire that Bulbasaur, and wonder why they always seem to be so perfectly perched on household objects.
And I certainly can’t judge someone for walking miles in order to hatch Pokémon, considering I spent the better part of last week — probably more than 50 hours — building the Perfect Modded Skyrim ™.
It makes me happy to see people’s enthusiasm. It reminds me of my own enthusiasm for, say, the Elder Scrolls games and lore, or the works of P.G. Wodehouse, or historical fashion.
If people being enthusiastic and excited makes you bitter and angry… maybe consider what a stone you’ve made of your heart.
… I mean, that sounded really judgmental. But this is something I’ve reflected on a lot, having recently written a post which was basically, “seriously, folks, can we talk about fantasy that isn’t Game of Thrones?” I put a lot of effort, with that post, into making sure that my inner fandom hipster wasn’t channeled, because I didn’t want to trample on something people loved. I had Adina, who’s a huge fan, proofread it. I hope I succeeded in being more educational than judgmental.
Personally, my crabbiness about “popular stuff” is reflective of wishing more people were into my (semi-niche) hobbies. I mean, yeah, SFF is bigger than its ever been, and we live in a world where well-groomed, popular teenage girls now ask each other who their favorite Doctor is — but I still wish more people would geek out about, say, Dragaera with me.
But I think there’s a difference between that crabbiness, and the mean-spiritedness I’ve seen at the expense of Pokémon Go players. There’s a lot of talk about “immaturity.” Some people believe adults shouldn’t play games.
You know what games are? Stories.
If you don’t believe me, listen to your coworkers describe what happened in Tuesday’s All-Star game. It has a beginning, middle, and end. There is conflict. There is a protagonist, and an antagonist. (Unlike many stories, opinions vary on which side is which!)
You know what stories are? The fundamental building blocks of what make us human. There’s a reason it’s so important that people see themselves reflected in fiction — it’s part of how we know we’re real. It’s the mirror recognition test.
So mocking someone for loving a certain game, implying they’re not mature? It’s punishing people for loving a narrative too much. It’s in the same spirit as posting spoilers. You are saying you don’t respect how they construct their personal narrative.
You are saying you don’t respect them.
This is what you are doing when you yuck someone’s yum.
Enjoy this guy’s enthusiasm. I hope he never loses that passion.