POKEMON GO: The Beginning of a new fearful saga


While reading about incubation lab of Google, I had read about Niantic – the business unit set up to create an augmented reality platform. While we were waiting for AR to change our construction methodologies or revolutionize our surgeries, it has turned the whole world into a gaming zone by introducing an amazingly entertaining but dreadfully dangerous game – POKEMON GO.

Though till yesterday, I felt that it is a hype that surrounds every new product, however mundane or miraculous. I felt that children are merely snap-chatting & talking about a new game.

But, the more I read, researched and thought about it, the more scared I felt.

It has the power to change our interactions with ourselves and with our social circle. It can gate-crash into our brains erasing the difference between imagination and reality. It can create a new personal version of reality, tampering with our existing ways of looking at it.

Are we ready for a saga that has started to unfold through Pokemon Go?

It is a free-to-play, GPS based augmented reality mobile game developed by Niantic for IOS and Android devices.

Players move around glued to their phones while they catch Pokemon on the go. They search in real locations called Pokestops while playing on their phones. Hold your smartphone in front of you, follow a real time interactive map that shows you where your quarry is hiding. Once you reach the locations, “capture” the critter after which you can train it, fight it or do whatever.

It has released only in USA, Australia and New Zealand but millions of users across the world (including India) have side-loaded the game and have started playing it on the roads.

On the surface, I could think of a few areas where such a game could prove detrimental for the hooked players.

  1. Physical Safety Issues: People are moving around without bothering about coming cars or entering into places like police stations. They can get hurt or get into problems anytime.

Selfies are causing lot of ignorant and meaningless accidents. Pokemon Go will intensify the issues of carelessness and impulsive, reckless behavior.

It is scarier for us because more people died taking Selfies in India than in any other country till February 2016.

  1. Crime Instigation: Players can use it to lure people to a specific place using this game and it may lead to thefts, rape, murders.

A robbery has already happened in Missouri. Police at Missouri said that the four teenage robbers used the game to lure victims by putting a beacon at a location to draw in players.

  1. ­Net Addiction / Screen Addiction: Within a week of its release, people are using it more than apps like Whatsapp, Tinder, Snap-chat or fb messenger. According to Similarweb, the average time spent on this app is 43minutes, 23 seconds a day which is much higher than what it is for above mentioned apps. Imagine teenagers getting hooked by this awesome game or office goers being allured to look for Pokemon in and around office.
  1. Road Accidents: People might start playing it while driving. Earlier they were talking or texting while being behind the wheels, now they might be hunting for Pokemon. We cannot imagine that kind of a scenario unless it happens and leaves us shocked.
  1. Psychological Dangers: While playing these Augmented Reality Games, children/older people might get so immersed in the digitally enhanced world that they will lose touch with what is happening in the real world.

We cannot fathom the extent of changes it can cause to human brain till we receive some actual data on impact of using Augmented Reality for fun.

There are certain positive impacts also that I can think of:

  1. Kids are outside and walking. They are exercising as they hunt for Pokemons, leaving their sedentary lifestyles.
  2. It is new and so much fun. Every person who has played the game has enjoyed it thoroughly and is raving about the fun quotient.
  3. Parents are spending more time with their children as they walk behind them while they are playing outside. Indian Parents are following their teenagers to Pokestops because they are afraid that the children might get into trouble.

But if you want to run and have fun outside with your family and friends through a game, try Supersuit (http://www.wearsupersuit.com) designed by an amazingly talented Mr. Rajat Dhariwal, Founder of www.madratgames.com which will keep you entertained, sane as well as safe.

Let AR be used for serious causes, not for fun which could lead to sad and serious repercussions.


Lessons From My Three Moms

I Love Mom.jpgMy latest article on www.sheroes.com published on 23rd June, 2016

Don’t be startled. My father didn’t marry thrice. Still, I have three moms. Let me explain: I was born to one. We all are blessed to have this wonderful mother.

I was handed over to one. Indian women are married more to a mother-in-law than to a man.

Then, I gifted myself one. After being influenced generously by these two moms, I needed one to maintain my sanity. When I became a mother, I gifted my ‘mother–self’,  to myself.

I got my first mother 40-years-ago, and she still remains an influencer. I got my second mother 20-years-ago, and she is integral to my life. I got my third mother 15-years-ago and she keeps my head and heart in place, letting me adapt and evolve to balance the present, the past and the future.

Lessons from my first mom: This woman is made up of all muscles, bones and  tissues which shout-out “MOM”. Her personality is overpowering, and there is no madness in her methods. I wonder why she was not in the military,  and it costed me dearly.

I had my clothes ironed and laid out, a home-cooked tiffin, and polished shoes every-day of my school life. She stitched all my clothes (I never wore jeans as she could not stitch one). I ogled at dresses hanging in shops, but never bought a single one.

She managed her time so effectively that every watch in the world should be proud of her. A cleanliness freak, an exercising enthusiast, a nutrition messiah, an avid reader…phew, I am already tired half way.

I could never sleep till late on Sundays, as a child. I still feel guilty if I sleep till late. I could never get less marks, even in a regular school test. She expected me to excel everywhere. She had her own way of pursuing her own umpteen interests. She would focus on one thing at a time for a few days, and then focus on another for next few days. When I was growing up, I saw a ‘bookworm mom’ for five days, a ‘cleaner’ for three days, an ‘artist’ (she painted) for a week and a ‘tailor mom’ for a stretch. My doctor dad waded through these changing avatars every month and I absorbed her focus and enthusiasm.

She always talked about future and future readiness. She raised two girls, and always missed being a professional. So, we grew up dreaming of making it big professionally.

Her punctuality and time allocation for tasks gatecrashed into my personality. Her passion for excellence costed me sleep of many nights and dissatisfaction at many junctures. Her mindfulness is as permanent in my being as that vaccine injection mark on my shoulder.

At 68, she looks at a washing machine with disgust, and jumps at the mention of ‘junk’ as if she has seen a cockroach in her kitchen.

Her emphasis on working hard, managing time, sticking to discipline and updating knowledge all the time has stayed in the closet of my habits.

Lessons from my second mom: My second mother was a working woman. She worked for the state government’s welfare department, and had met with a severe accident before my marriage which incapacitated her movement a bit. This woman is full of courage, determination and will power. Her opinions border on the blunt, her responses meander between curt and candid.

Television occupied her mental space, and planning was quite an unwelcome guest. I went through tremors of cultural and psychological shock before understanding her psyche.

I saw her taking it easy, neither fretting over creased bed sheets, nor fuming over tasteless food (cooked by the domestic help). I could totally imagine her as someone who worked round the clock but not in search of perfection.

She was happy that both her daughters were married and not working. She never seemed to have high academic expectations and still loved her children. No regimentation, little discipline, and the straight forward communication rattled me for quite some time.

I loved the only son of this mother and we married very young. My first mom disowned me for some time, while the second mom accepted me with an open heart into her unorganised, flexible, unkempt lifestyle. Life became a head-stand for me, now I could get up late (my mother in law never gets up before eight) without guilt, I could study less (I was an MBA Student) and nobody judged me.

She started believing in positive acceptance of everything after her fatal accident when she was hospitalised for more than a year.

Gradually, I created a disciplined, functional home enabling me to work and enjoy.

Lessons from my third mom: In the first five years of my marriage, I encountered many tug-of-wars in my mind where both my moms pulled me in opposite directions. Their distinct life philosophies made me uncomfortable. One shouted achievements while the other watched television. One believed in hard work, while the other depended on destiny. I would stand in the middle, trying to be a daughter they both would like.

Many of you will understand my dilemma. What was right? How I lived v/s how I am living v/s how do I want to live?

My third mom emerged gradually after my daughter’s birth, and I discovered my need to have a ‘family vision’. I needed to piece together my fragmented future visions. The famous churning of the sea led to emergence of amazing treasures. My churning, lessons learnt from these two dynamic, yet polarised mothers,  led to an emergence of valuable lessons for the third mom. These are my learnings:

  • I learnt to respect difference of opinions and to disagree with them. It has helped me tremendously as a working mom – at work as well as at home. Different opinions don’t annoy me, and I politely communicate my view without offending the other person.
  • I tried childishly, to keep both of them happy which was more difficult than climbing Mount Everest every day. Gradually, I shifted my emotional gear from pleasing them to living my life. Moms, even when unhappy, love you. If they don’t, unhappiness doesn’t matter. This revelation took two monkeys off my back.
  • I believed in the fundamental values like hard work, discipline and integrity but allowed myself discounts. My first mother focussed only on her family, while my second mother had dual responsibilities. Though I never saw my second mother as a young mother, I still wanted to fare better than her. I relaxed the perfection rule to some extent while keeping the basics intact. I don’t lose my sleep over every grade of my daughter but I don’t allow her to neglect her studies. I enjoy my work but family comes first. Since I wanted to spend more time with my teenage daughter, I have ventured out on own to be my own boss. I don’t live by the clock but I do love to see the sunrise.
  • I devised my communication plan after experiencing the communication wizardry of both moms. They are highly opinionated and convey their opinions unabashedly. One goes into silent mode for days when angry while the other erupts like a volcano. I took inspiration from a burger which has a soft slice of bun followed by a hard cutlet and topped again by a soft slice of bun. I begin softly, put the hard hitting or hurtful sentiments in the middle and cover it up with some soft, polite and positive talk. After all, everyone has something positive that we can talk about.

Today, my daughter loves all three moms and so do I. The first and second mother have grown fond of each other surprisingly. I don’t think they have any clue about all the heartburn they caused me. We all have evolved over the years and have morphed into a family that values each other more than the differences. My first mother talks about fate and chance at times while my second mother encourages my daughter to study harder. I, the third mom nod on both sides, smile and move on.