Monday, 25 July 2016

Cynicism go...

Unless you've been hiding under a rock somewhere this week, you'll know that Pokemon Go is officially go in the UK. Pokemon passed me by the first time round, so while I might just about know my Pikachu from my Jigglypuff, the urge to download it hasn't taken hold as of yet. Lots of people I know however are well and truly on the Pokemon hype: while my target stumbling down Dalston high street this Saturday night was a greasy burger, stat, one of my friend's was an elusive character called Gloom – a pretty apt discovery for the queue in McD's.

My initial reaction to this throwback craze was a big ol' eye roll. And with news of people falling off cliffs in their pursuit of Pokestops, plus this batshit Poke-themed shop that's popped up in LA, my eyeballs have been at risk of repetitive strain injury. But here's the thing: it turns out that already, Pokemon Go has been used to raise awareness about the Syrian refugee crisis. It's bringing AR – a technology that would have blown my generation's younger, Pokemon-card swapping minds – to the masses. It's acting as a new and less Tinder-shallow way of meeting people. It's encouraging people to get off their arses and leave their offices at lunch time. And, let's face it, it's taking their minds off the state that is the world in 2016 – which can't be a bad thing.

But I'm not really here to defend the honour of Pokemon Go. Instead, I merely want to point out that while you can roll your eyes all you want, when you think about it, each and every one of us is a little bit ridiculous. Tom Hiddleston, a man up until recently known for little more than being one of Britain's best (if a little beige) actors, voluntarily wore an 'I heart TS' vest top for all the world to see a few weeks ago. One of my friends reliably informs me that last week a well-known actor (and grown adult man) threw a diva strop on an ad shoot, demanding that an X-Box be installed ready for him to play between takes. Every year, thousands of people pay hundreds and hundreds of pounds to travel to a field in Somerset and spend a weekend knee-deep in mud. Mrs Brown's Boys has seven million viewers, for goodness sake.

Us Brits are a cynical bunch. Most of us spend our lives as if we're auditioning to take the reigns on Charlie Brooker's Weekly Wipe, constantly watching out for things to take the piss out of. We reward other people's talent for snark in retweets. We view the cheeriness of our Stateside counterparts with contempt. For every person with a 'Keep Calm and Carry On' novelty mug, there's someone who'd happily nuke them all. Our last Prime Minister forged a political career out of being good at a well-timed insult, as a scruffy Jeremy Corbyn learnt to his cost in a now-famous PMQs exchange.

Most of us, wherever we're from, are guilty of being quick to judge, and this instinct for piss-taking has no doubt been fine-tuned and fired up by social media, which allows us to shoot out cutting remarks without even putting a face to the assumed faux-pas. And it's for this reason that I think we should all make a conscious effort to stop and take a moment before the next time we do. A similar policy, if you will, to when you get a text from an ex – before firing off your reply through the red fog that's suddenly formed in front of your eyes, always ALWAYS give it a little time before sending one, if at all. You know you'll regret it if you don't.

Take the type of man who dismisses make up as being pointless and shallow, and feels the need to tell a woman who's made the mistake of applying lipstick that he prefers the 'natural look', for instance. Ok mate, but think about it for a sec: the hours I've spent painting my face, I'm sure you've made up for in time spent watching grown men kick a ball about in a painted field. To me, makeup is an art form. To you, football's the beautiful game. And hey, why can't they both be true?

All I'm saying is, we all have our very own Pokemon Go. For every episode of Miranda I've watched, maybe you've watched one of Robot Wars. I'm wary that I'm starting to sound like the type of inspirational quote Cara Delevingne might post on Instagram ('EMBRACE YOUR WEIRDNESS'), but bear in mind before the next time you scoff at something that those in glass houses – or immersed in Pokemon Go games – shouldn't throw stones. And if you really can't help yourself, at least have the decency to expect a few lobbed back.