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How Pokémon Go is the new bogeyman

Suddenly, we seem to have forgotten ISIS, Palestine and a lot of other problems

Khaled Almaeena

Published: Updated:

In every period of history there are characters or issues that seem to disturb people and cause anxiety or fear. They are referred to as “bogeymen”. There have been many such bogeymen in history as a result of threats that people perceived to be real and dangerous.

In the 1950s in the US, Communists were the bogeymen. In his maniacal fear of Communism, Senator Joseph R. McCarthy created a Red Scare and carried out a witch hunt to cleanse the US of Communists. This gave rise to the expression “there is a red under every bed.”

Heartfelt anguish was caused to people and the witch hunt professionally and permanently scarred many film producers, writers and others for life. Today in the US, Muslims are the new bogeymen.

However, the most recent bogeyman is Pokémon Go. While this new smartphone game has attracted attention worldwide, it has also caused alarm and consternation here in Saudi Arabia. Conspiracy theories have sprung up with some raving and ranting about how Pokémon Go is actually a surveillance trick on the part of the American government to spy on us.

Suddenly, we seem to have forgotten ISIS, Palestine and a lot of other problems as we grapple with the supposed dangers hidden within the latest augmented reality mobile phone game

Khaled Almaeena

There are edicts by certain scholars denouncing the game to be un-Islamic, a waste of time and a plot to steer us off our course!

A Jeddah businessman countered such thinking by asking if corruption was not also un-Islamic, if by not paying workers their salaries and benefits on time and treating them badly was not un-Islamic and ended by asking which course exactly are we heading for.

Debates are raging across society about Pokémon Go which indicates that we are totally oblivious to the real dangers to our future – overpopulation, corruption, intolerance and scarcity of water to name only a few. We seem to have gone totally out of control. All kinds of statements, many of which are hilarious, are being made by some of our officials!

However, all of this fuss about Pokémon Go only gives me a sense of sadness about the disappointing state of our society. Suddenly, we seem to have forgotten ISIS, Palestine and a lot of other problems as we grapple with the supposed dangers hidden within the latest augmented reality mobile phone game.

That tells us everything about our society!

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on July 24, 2016.

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Khaled Almaeena is a veteran Saudi journalist, commentator, businessman and the editor-at-large of the Saudi Gazette. Almaeena has held a broad range of positions in Saudi media for over thirty years, including CEO of a PR firm, Saudi Television news anchor, talk show host, radio announcer, lecturer and journalist. As a journalist, Almaeena has represented Saudi media at Arab summits in Baghdad, Morocco and elsewhere. In 1990, he was one of four journalists to cover the historic resumption of diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and Russia. He also traveled to China as part of this diplomatic mission. Almaeena's political and social columns appear regularly in Gulf News, Asharq al-Aswat, al-Eqtisadiah, Arab News, Times of Oman, Asian Age and The China Post. He can be reached at kalmaeena@saudigazette.com.sa and followed on Twitter: @KhaledAlmaeena

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