"If we want to pass judgment on whether it's good or bad, we need to do it in the context of what it replaces," Dmitri Williams, president of Ninja Metrics and associate professor at USC's Annenberg School for Communication told me in an email. "If these people were previously staring at a screen indoors and by themselves, then this is a little more human. If they were all outside having a picnic and talking, then it's a little less. My guess is that we're looking more at the former."
Okay, point taken. Still, I'm bothered. But why? It's not like this is the first time some new-fangled gadget took the world by storm. Remember all of that hub-bub over television? Cabbage Patch Kids? Pong? Remember Wii? Remember how when I first moved to Boston in 1999, everyone on the Red Line had identical tilts to their heads, only they were reading books? There was a definite creep-factor to that silent sameness.
"People are doing the same thing they always do, but with a novel thing," Virginia Tech associate professor James Ivory he told me.
RELATED: Headset-Free Augmented Reality Coming From Amazon
That struck a chord.
Because I have this sense that some many people aren't aware of the problems our world faces or maybe they don't want to know or maybe they know but they want to forget. I don't really notice the apathy until some new gadget enters the fray to accentuate what people do care about. What they care a great deal about: imaginary monsters.
To be fair, there have been some crowds gathering recently to demonstrate concern for a cause. I wish I saw more of that.
"There's definitely great potential here," Ivory said.
Pokémon GO is a game-changer for augmented reality apps, he said, and what if we could leverage that kind of technology to get people more interested in community events? What if we could get more people to the farmer's market or to the local hearing on that new building going up or to the parade or the peace rally?
"What if someone developed an app that makes it just as exciting to vote?" asked Ivory.
Yes, what if.