‘Gotta catch ‘em all,’ but at what cost?

Students gather near the Bull Fountain to catch Pokemon at the Running of the Bulls Pokestop. BREANNE WILLIAMS/STAFF 

“Pokemon Go” is taking the nation by storm as millions of people scoure the streets in search of rare Pokemon. 

While it’s phenomenal that Americans are actually getting out of the house, it is important not to forgo common sense when “catching ‘em all.”

“Pokemon Go” is an app that allows users to trek across surrounding neighborhoods and the city in search of Pokemon to catch and train. The player uses his or her cellphone to track down the elusive creatures and utilizes virtual Pokeballs to capture them.

However, it appears many players are competing to be the winner of the Darwin Award. When they see a Pokemon appear on their radar, they pursue it regardless of their surroundings.

Police forces across the country have had to remind citizens that parks have closing hours, crosswalks should not be traversed without looking and visiting isolated areas at 3 a.m. is not a wise decision. 

That Snorlax is simply not worth it.

In a Facebook post Monday, Largo police reported around 100 people were walking around Largo Central Park staring at their phones at midnight, two hours after closing hours. 

“It looked like a bunch of trendy zombies following a mystical GPS device,” Largo police Lt. Paul Amodeo said.

In Missouri, police have reported armed robbers using the app to set lures drawing victims into isolated areas where they became easy prey.  

The Tennessee Highway Safety Office urged drivers to “Wait to Go until you’ve stopped” by showing an image of a driver looking at the Pokemon on their screen while a semi truck barrels straight toward her. 

It would seem obvious that driving and hunting virtual creatures is not advisable, yet the internet has been blowing up with people reporting close encounters with players on the road. 

Traveling long distances is the only way to catch every Pokemon, so many are cheating the system by getting behind the wheel rather than walking miles across the city.

Robert Beckett, an incoming freshman majoring in sociology at USF, realized the dangers as well as the business opportunity this phenomenon presented. 

“I’m an Uber driver and people have been asking me to drive slower so their eggs have a better chance of hatching, to stop when they encounter a Pokemon and to drive by certain Pokestops and gyms,” stated Beckett.

“People don’t want to walk and are already out there driving and hunting Pokemon at the same time,” stated Beckett. “It’s significantly safer for me to drive them around than it is for them to drive themselves.”

Beckett has flyers posted around campus with his number offering to drive players around town with a discount for those who travel in a group. 

Reports of trespassing are being posted on police sites across the country as people wander into backyards and government property searching for something to catch.

One player, Shayla Wiggins from Wyoming, even stumbled upon a dead body when searching for a Pokemon near a natural water source. 

There is no argument the game is getting Americans active in a way health enthusiasts like Michelle Obama could only have dreamed of. However, people need to remember they are not traveling around in a virtual world. They’re walking the streets of reality and with that comes dangers not broadcasted on their screens.

Police should not have to remind citizens to look both ways when crossing the street or that driving while fiddling on your phone is dangerous. The game has only been out for a week, but at this rate, trainers will be headed to the hospital faster than nurse Joy can admit them.

 

Breanne Williams is a junior majoring in mass communications.

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