Unless you live under a rock, you have heard about the App Store sensation that is Pokémon Go. Whether you think the game is a masterpiece or a menace, there is no denying the popularity it has gained within its first week on the market. I have tried out the game, as has most of the population, and I could not help noticing some similarities between Pokémon Go and dating. Let me clarify this: There are many similarities between Pokémon Go and what dating has become amongst my generation, not the dating portrayed in '80s movies from the days of love letters and land lines. Although the romantic practices I intend to make a comparison to are widely accepted, I hope to highlight some of the ridiculousness of these habits that have made many of today’s romantic relationships into nothing more than a Nintendo game.
1. Everything is on your phone
The entire Pokémon world is now available through the screen of an iPhone, which is truly an amazing technological feat. Much of what dating and romantic relationships have become in my generation are available through apps on a phone as well. Through iMessage, Snapchat, Tinder and many others, we form “connections” with others — which exist entirely in the virtual space of our phones.
2. It is really just a game
As real as it may seem, there are not actually Pokémon wandering in the streets. It may feel real, but in both cases, it is really just a game.
3. Everything is unnecessarily confusing
You are plunged into the world of Pokémon with little direction and forced to figure out the virtual reality game on your own. The last time I felt as though I had such a complicated, unsolvable puzzle on my hands was when Snapchat released friend emojis.
4. You know how far away your “catch” is, but never which direction
The little footprints let you know how far away nearby Pokémon are, but provide no direction to head in. Similarly, we may sometimes be lucky enough to know where we stand in a relationship, and thus know how far away we are from our “relationship goals.” However, we never know how to get where we want to be, and often what is the right direction in one situation is the wrong direction in another.
5. You cannot help being jealous of friends who are more successful than you are
It can be difficult to mask your jealousy when all of your friends have caught Pikachu and you have not. If your luck in the dating pool is anything like your failure to catch good Pokémon, it is also challenging to be supportive of your friends when they are “talking to” someone great, or if they are lucky and “hanging out” with a good guy, or possibly mythical and really dating someone.
6. You find yourself going places only because you think there will be a good “catch” there
Pokémon Go has motivated people to walk their dogs like nothing ever has before. Pokestops with lures attract people from miles around, like a party rumored to have the entire lacrosse team in attendance.
7. People get frustrated when they need to put in effort or leave their houses for it
It turns out “come over really quick my parents aren’t home” does not attract any quality Pokémon, either.
8. There is a painful lack of communication
There is no way to talk to any other players, and no way to ask that shady Professor Willow any questions. Snapchat, an app commonly used for communication, limits us to a measly two lines of text to communicate with, so little this sentence would not even fit. We are "communicating" without using language, which is dangerous because it is too easy to be on a completely different page than your potential partner.
9. Nothing good happens after 1 a.m.
No good Pokémon are out at this hour. Do not even think about wandering around alone at this time. Do not open that message; we all know it is not rated PG at this hour. Do not fool yourself. Go to bed.
10. The best ones are really hard to find
The basic, common Pokémon are surely easy to find and always a simple catch. It is the rare Pokémon whom we cannot find and become excited at the pursuit of, let alone the catch. Good romantic partners seem hard to find these days. If you are looking for a real connection with someone, first you have to find someone who wants the same thing, and then you have to want to connect with that person. Unfortunately, this is often the equivalent of setting the online shopping filters to “New Arrivals” and “On Sale” simultaneously: No results are found.
11. You have to buy a lot of candy
It is like Valentine’s Day every day. You need candy to evolve your Pokémon, and you need candy on Valentine’s Day if you still want to be in a relationship on February 15.
12. There are a lot of rats
Rattatas are everywhere. Similarly, there are always enough rats to go around in the dating world. Yes, both can be evolved into something better, but it takes more work than seems feasible.
13. You cannot help wanting to catch ‘em all
Wanting to catch them all does not imply actually catching them all.
14. You want to be the very best that no one ever was
This is another well known Pokémon slogan, but it applies to everything we pursue. Deep down, we all want to be the best at everything we do, the dating game included.
15. No matter how frustrating the game may become, we keep playing anyways
The servers may crash and you may lose everything you have worked for thus far, but that in no way means you will stop dedicating absurd amounts of your time to Pokémon Go. And just because I criticize the way relationships work these days in no way means I will not play the game, nor do I plan to give up on love any time soon.