I am playing Pokemon Go and I am not ashamed.
Why? Because this has been a mess of a year so far, especially if you’re attuned to the news worldwide. As years go, 2016 is a monster.
It’s claimed the lives of some of our most cherished artists: David Bowie returned to the stars Jan. 10, followed four days later by the great Alan Rickman. Glenn Frey of the Eagles was taken Jan. 18. Harper Lee, whose great American novel changed the mindscape of generations, died Feb. 19. Former First Lady Nancy Reagan passed away March 6. And the Purple One, Prince, was taken April 21.
Since 12:01 a.m., the new year has been stained by a presidential campaign littered with racism, sexism, and xenophobia. Every single day has been marred by hateful calls on both sides of the aisle.
On Jan. 5, North Korea had the first world-shaking headline of the year, announcing a successful hydrogen bomb test and reawakening Cold War fears.
Tea shop and mosque bombings Jan. 11 in Sharaban, Iraq, weren’t the first of the year, but they claimed more than 100 lives to set a mournful tone.
In late January and early February, an outbreak of the Zika virus was confirmed by the World Health Organization and spread to America.
A year of terror: We in the Western world were rocked March 22 by the Brussels bombings that killed 32 and wounded hundreds more. Callussed, we did not respond the same to the hundreds of deaths by bombings in Iraq, Yemen, Turkey, Pakistan, and other Eastern nations.
There have been so many shootings this year there is only room to list the most shocking: A gunman killed 49 people inside Orlando’s Pulse night club June 12. Five police officers were murdered by a sniper July 7 in Dallas; nine others were injured. Amid the confusion of the Republican National Convention, news of five shot July 16 at the Agora Theater in Cleveland was all but ignored. Three police officers were shot to death July 17 in Baton Rouge.
Hate and racism manifested through the spring and early summer, culminating June 24 in a British vote to leave the European Union. In the time since, violent hate crimes have escalated.
Just when we thought the world might be regaining its equilibrium, more terror and death — 84 were killed and 303 injured July 14 in Nice, France, when a terrorist drove a cargo truck into Bastille Day celebration crowds.
This past weekend, I watched a live video stream as the Turkish military staged a coup. At first seeming peaceful and using the rhetoric of freedom by force, it quickly turned deadly as soldiers opened fire on civilian protesters on the Bosporus Bridge.
So yes, I am playing Pokemon Go.
Why? Because in a year of darkness, we need a tiny bit of light, even if it comes on a video game screen. When I take my daughter’s tiny hand and walk down the street looking for pikachu, the pain goes away. It doesn’t matter if it’s silly — it’s a shared moment of joy.
Maybe you should try it, too.