I am a geek. An unashamed nerd who spent her school lunchtimes in computer rooms, and now her nights binge-reading till 3am. I am quite used to the world telling me it is silly and pathetic to be obsessed with such things as imaginary worlds and characters who have never lived and I have never shied away from defending the things I love.
But something about defending Pokémon Go feels different to me. Because it matters so deeply and so widely and so intently that I can't help but leap in front of its oncoming slaughter.
Pokémon Go matters, and not because it is a new piece of revolutionary, interactive technology. It matters because in a world so divided by hate and anger and racism, this game has created bridges and footholds and a unity that seemed lost within the pages of history.
In defence of geek-dom
I could throw every defence in the world out here that you've probably already heard it: Pokémon Go is getting people out of the house and exercising, it's tackling obesity and mental illness, it's bringing people together regardless of race, gender, sexuality or age and making them work together for a common goal.
All of that is true (and more), which makes it truly a piece of revolutionary technology. I stumbled across a large gathering of people on a normally quiet night in Brisbane city, all of whom were playing Pokémon Go. The only other time I've seen such a wide range of race and gender and ages working together and socialising was in church.
But the truth in this matter is not in defending Pokémon Go and understanding how it is helping people in unexpected ways. It's in understanding how the only argument against Pokémon Go that apparently holds up, makes this the most recent of a long line of examples where we've shamed geeks for doing what they love.
Whether it's Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, chess, writing novels or fan fiction, speaking in Elvish, watching Doctor Who, Star Wars card battles or cosplay, the world of geek-dom celebrates creativity and imagination and storytelling in extraordinary and vastly different ways. The greatest argument against Pokémon Go making the rounds is that it is a silly thing to be obsessed with. An argument that is usually also applied to the things listed above.
Let me pitch this question to you then: why is it not okay for people to be obsessed with the glorious ways in which geeks create and mould imagination, but it is absolutely acceptable – encouraged even – for people to be obsessed with sports?
As a teacher, I know that in my classroom exercising the mind is just as important as exercising the body. What most people don't realise, is exercising the imagination is vital to both of these. By ridiculing the many 'geek' type activities that are out there, and labelling them as silly, we are effectively shutting people off from exercising their imaginations.
Play Pokémon Go. I dare you.
The truth here, that we should all be defending, is that Pokémon Go has come at an excellent time. The internet's focus seemed to drift away from the racism of the past few years – from Ferguson to Brussels to Paris to Dallas and now Nice – to giving each other tips on how to catch the best Pokémon, celebrating each other's successes and bonding together in teams. It's bringing happiness to a divided world and more than that, it is giving people the ability to express their passion and excitement for such things in public places with a vast range of different people who they would normally never have met.
There has never been a more fantastic time to be a geek. And there has never been a more fantastic time for the passion and excitement that is part of geek culture to seep into our larger society.
Talisa Pariss is the co-ordinator of the school-based Louder Theatre Company, teaching drama, communication skills and confidence to kids. When she's not pretending for a living, she can be found indulging in any kind of creativity she can get her hands on.
Talisa Pariss's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/talisa-pariss.html