{Is there a Pokemon inside this hollow tree?} It'd been a few weeks since I've been to the cemetery. I let other volunteers ta...

Pokemon Go has changed the cemetery

Tuesday, July 19, 2016 , , ,

{Is there a Pokemon inside this hollow tree?}

It'd been a few weeks since I've been to the cemetery. I let other volunteers take all the photo requests because I've been busy. It's birthday season in our family.

So it was a surprise to head over there yesterday with three photo requests to fulfill, only to find the cemetery quite crowded. It usually isn't, not at all. Sometimes I visit the large cemetery and don't see any other cars except for the ones parked outside the main office. Most times I'll see a car or two, and a bicyclist or perhaps a dog walker. I see more deer than I do people at Fairmount.

But yesterday, it was packed. I experienced a traffic jam, actually, on the non-public roads lined with family mausoleums and monuments.

Not just that, but there were people hanging out. Some in groups, some with one friend, and a few loners. Just...loitering. Staring at their smartphones.

I didn't even have to guess what's changed in the last few weeks to make the cemetery suddenly crowded with young adults:

It's Pokemon Go. 

Yep. The gaming app that's currently sweeping the nation {right off the side of a cliff} has even affected the cemetery, of all places.

And I'm honestly not sure how I feel about it.

It's a bit unnerving to see groups of people standing around in a cemetery, knowing their being there has nothing to do with all the graves they're standing on. It felt less peaceful. I encountered other drivers being somewhat reckless, staring at their phones as they navigated. It also makes me self-conscious. Because the first thing I usually do when I arrive at Fairmount is pull over and get on my phone. But I'm hunting grave locations for genealogy research and looking at the vast map of over 100 blocks of graves so I know where to go. I'm not hunting virtual reality Japanese cartoon creatures.

I have always been cautious at the cemetery. Well aware that there could be seedy characters lurking behind monuments. I'm hyper-vigilant to stay away from strangers and watch out for myself there. I don't look for graves if I feel unsafe. Pokemon Go has brought a whole new type of visitor to Fairmount, and I'm sure they're harmless, but the fact is: there's just more people around there now!

I'll also say this: it's sad to me that there were more people playing Pokemon at the cemetery yesterday than I saw there recently on Memorial Day weekend.

On the other hand...to play the devil's advocate...it's getting them out into nature, it's putting Fairmount--and its Colorado history within--on the map for these people. That's good right? They have just as much of a right to be there as I do, right?

As I prepared to leave, I rolled down my window and drove up to a group of about 8 twenty-somethings staring at their phones. A couple were seated on the side of the road, a few more standing, one was leaning against his bike. This is out of character for me, as it turns out I'm more of an introvert than I was raised to think I was {they used to call me a social butterfly, but adulthood has revealed that I avoid social situations when possible.} But I had to be sure...

"Hey," I called out. "Are you guys playing Pokemon Go?"

"Yeah," they said, somewhat sheepishly.

I laughed in a friendly way. "Are there a lot of Pokemons around here?" {I'm not well versed in the lingo, despite having downloaded it to see what all the fuss was about.}

"Oh yeah!" a girl answered. "There's a gym right behind me!" She pointed to a family mausoleum.

Another boy piped up, defensive and friendly, "It's crazy, but I'd never think to come here if it weren't for Pokemon Go! It's actually a really neat place, so this is cool."

"Yeah, totally!" I said. "You should check out the giant mausoleum back there! [Where another Pokemon crowd lingered, btw.] There's a whole herd of deer that hangs out, and I can sometimes spot bald eagles..." but I trailed off because I realized they weren't interested in any of that, and were staring at their phones once again.

"Have fun, bye!" I said. At least I got some friendly goodbyes back.

But it's a shame to me, frankly, that in 2016 it seems that what's getting the next generation out and about and active is not Fitbits and interest in local historical treasures. But rather, Pokemon.

I got a Fitbit last week at Kohl's and it's been a sobering wake up call to see how sedentary I have become as a stay-at-home-mom. It's reminding me to get up and stay active and go on walks. It set me back $130. One might say that Pokemon Go, which I've learned rewards you for walking and visiting new places, is the "poor-man's" Fitbit?

Anyway, I'm interested to see if the Pokemon at the cemetery continues to be a thing from here on out. Tell me your thoughts, leave a comment. I'm still undecided how I really feel about it.

I'll just say, don't be surprised when the next death-during-Pokemoning you hear about in the news involves a headstone falling over on someone. 

{I opened the app to see how many Pokemon thingys there were at the cemetery, as you can see in the block behind my avatar, which is all cemetery, there's quite a lot!}


P.S. If you can not judge me too harshly for recording while driving {would never do this on public, busy roads and my eyes were 100% on road} I very cautiously filmed it, yesterday. {Notice my strange midwest accent when I say phones. Lel.}

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