Once upon a time, in a millennium long long ago, Nintendo ruled the land and America was a Pokénation. Back then, kids used to make fun of me for my buckteeth and Pikachu blankets, and my mom used to fight me for the Gameboy Color so that she could play Pokémon Pinball until her hands were sore at night. Those were the days.
Despite that I was the avidest of Pokémon trainers in my childhood, I never thought that adorable idiot animals that can only say their own names would make a major comeback. But lo and behold, the Pokéssaince is in full bloom, but this time, it isn’t Nintendo that we owe our thanks to.
Niantic Inc. is the company that’s inspiring a nation to get out there, stare at their phones and bump into walls. It’s the name that popped up as I booted up Pokémon Go for the first time last Saturday. As a Poképurist, I was immediately skeptical upon seeing the foreign balloon-boat-neutron logo.
Who were these strangers, and what were they doing with my Pokeymen?
Five years ago I lived in an anarchist commune, and to say I hated marketing would be an understatement. I thought capitalism was rigged, McDonald's used subliminal messaging to prey upon babies, and CEOs were puppeteers of the American sheeple. To avoid giving our money to The System, we dumpster-dived for food, collected our own rainwater, grew our own gardens, and — I’m ashamed to admit — many of us shoplifted.
Let me pause to say that stealing things is not cool, ever. No matter how many employees between a company’s CEO and the product on the shelf, shoplifting robs people of their hard-earned money. My point is that refusal to support big companies is an integral part of anarchism, and yet, there is something deeply ironic about the whole subculture:
Anarchists are brand-loyal snobs.