Nothing is more popular in Hong Kong right now than Pokemon. Not even democracy.
Think Occupy Central was a big deal? Think again.
Sure, the student-led 2014 democracy movement occupied entire streets, even crippled whole districts.
But Pokemon GO trumps it in sheer breadth and scope. People of all ages and persuasions are preoccupied with it.
It’s hard to predict where Pokemon will show up next.
You’re as likely to encounter it in some dark corner in Tamar (remember the scene of that infamous police beating?) as in Beijing’s Liaison Office in Sai Ying Pun.
Civic Square is probably off limits to the yellow creature but who knows? The government might reopen it and see what happens.
If you see groups of people absorbed in their handsets, giggling and generally going in one direction, chances are you’ve encountered a Pokemon posse.
You might bump into them in Victoria Park, even Tai Mo Shan (remember the snow-fueled winter rush that left dozens stranded on the mountain?).
If you are eating out, you might be seated next to people trying to catch the digital Japanese characters.
Mind you, this is not happening only in a small city like Hong Kong.
We are only the second Asian city to debut Pokemon. It was launched in its native Japan on Friday after taking the United States and Europe by storm.
Virtual reality has become reality.
The frenzy reminds us of the scramble for the iPhone 4 and the ice bucket challenge two years ago.
Only this one is more viral.
A year or two from now, when we look back at how Pokemon took over our lives, we will be laughing at ourselves and feeling silly.
But as long as it’s here, we will keep telling ourselves that it’s a good thing for a whole lot of reasons.
First and foremost, it gets stay-at-home kids to go out and have fun. No one does that better than Pokemon in this stifling heat and oppressive humidity.
Now imagine how many pounds would be lost collectively if people went out and walked and how many extra bottles of drinks could be sold.
People moving about makes any city look vibrant. Shopping malls and restaurants, long deserted by mainland tourists, will hum again.
Think about the hordes of young mainlanders who would come to Hong Kong to join the party because Google map is not available in China.
And finally, we once fell for Tamagotchi, the little digital pet we nursed 20 years ago. Diehards organized their lives around it.
Yes, despite technology and politics — or more precisely the limitations they impose on us — our love for fun things remains.
Thank you Pokemon GO. I hope you will be around for a year.
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