Last week I had to disable my social media apps on my phone for a while. I realised I was becoming infected by the relentless waves of anger and cataclysmic thinking that had become my news feeds. It was like a tsunami of despair.
There was a joke Australians used to tell when I lived there. Q: "How do you know when a plane load of British have landed at the airport?" A: "You can still hear the whining when the engines have been turned off." Now, not wanting to get distracted by what this says about the quality of Australian humour, it seems like the trait my Aussie friends were pointing at has become globalised. The end is nigh, said the Internet!
Sans social media I headed for the park. Incredibly the sun was up, the sky was blue, and as far as I could see society was still functioning. It was nice to sit in the light.
Then I noticed something odd happening. Two French guys with gym toned torsos and tight fitting vests were doing a strange form of Tai Chi, moving their hands around and pointing at nothing. Eventually one squealed with laughter and they both looked at his phone. On the other side of the park a group of people were wandering through some bushes, shrieking with laughter, again they were pointing at nothing. In fact when I looked around I realised it was like a silent disco, where loads of people were dancing to some common song that I couldn't hear. It was charming, and very weird.
Then I realsied what was going on. They were playing Pokémon Go and the park was clearly a high density Pokémon part of the world. Perhaps the Hong Kong of Pokéworld.
It was just a joy to watch. Everyone was enjoying themselves. Sometimes they bumped into each other. No one cared.
My spirits were lifted.
This week I heard the news that Niantic, the company behind Pokemon Go, are negotiating for the rights to create Harry Potter Go. This news reminded me a bit of the moment in the movie 'Her' when the Operating System suddenly gets Scarlet Johannson's voice. Before that moment I was like 'whatever', after I was totally engaged.
When it comes to Pokémons I am like 'whatever', but the idea of turning the whole world into Hogwarts, now that is interesting.
When I read about J K Rowling, one of the many things that comes over as impressive about her is her social conscience. There is a deep, deep humanity in the magical world she created - a magic that has gone missing from the cynical world of politics.
Engagement is the key word here.
If we are to change the world for the better we need to give people good things to actively engage in together. Without that we all fall into toxic finger pointing and opinion trading.
Perhaps Harry Potter Go is just what the world needs. The books were a global phenomenon, connecting children (and adults) across cultures and language.
Wouldn't it be great if Harry Potter Go did the same, out there in real word. In the light.
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