"Pokemon Go" is everywhere right now, giving adults across the United States (and in a few other places) an excuse to play outside again. However, there are some places you should absolutely not play "Pokemon Go." Like, for example, at Auschwitz. Which should be pretty self-evident, but apparently is not.
"Pokemon Go" has a lot of upsides — it's fun, it's been a boon for a lot of small businesses, and it might be the best motivation anyone's ever come up with to exercise, for example. In fact, it's a little hard to see the downside to something that involves so much lighthearted fun and can make people so happy. However, there are some ways that "Pokemon Go" can be kind of awful — not because of the game itself, but because of people choosing to play it at the wrong time or place. And while you'd think that some of these times and places would be self-evident, it seems that they're not.
The age of the smartphone has brought with it a lot of questions about when technology is and is not appropriate. Should we take selfies at funerals? Should we be recording videos at concerts? Is it OK to be tweeting during church? These are all interesting questions, and there are a lot of arguments to be made either way in many cases — just as there are a lot of scenarios when you could debate whether or not playing "Pokemon Go" is appropriate.
But there are some time that it really just isn't. Here are five, as seen in actual news stories from this week.
1. The Holocaust Museum
The fact that anyone would try playing "Pokemon Go" in a museum focused on the Holocaust in order to find this out is depressing, but apparently enough people have been doing it that the Holocause Museum in Washington, D.C. is looking into having themselves removed from the game. And this problem doesn't just apply to Holocaust museums — any museum or memorial focused on a tragedy should really be off limits.
2. Auschwitz and the 9/11 Memorial
What's even worse than treating a place dedicated to remembering a tragedy like a game? Treating a place where terrible, tragic things actually happened like a game. Auschwitz and the 9/11 Memorial have made the news as places where people have apparently decided to play "Pokemon Go." This also applies to any site where a large number of people died, so if you're near a battlefield, a mass murder site, or anyplace at all having to do with genocide, put your phone away.
If you want to play "Pokemon Go" while you're bored in an ER waiting room, I'm not going to definitively say you shouldn't, but you definitely shouldn't go into a hospital specifically to hunt for Pokemon. And yes, that's true even if there are Pokestops or Pokegyms in the building. Some hospitals who have that misfortune are already experiencing trouble with eager players getting underfoot and potentially interfering with patient care — and if there is one thing that might be even worse than disrespecting the dead, it might just be risking the lives of the living. So please, don't go to a hospital to play "Pokemon Go."
4. During Religious Services
Some churches are actually embracing the stream of "Pokemon Go" players visiting the building, hoping that some people might show up for the game but find themselves sticking around for more serious reasons. Plus, churches that are open to the public are used to visitors anyway, so as long as you're not disrespectful in your quest — and as long as no one asks you to stop — it's not automatically a no-go to be playing "Pokemon Go" in a church. The exception: If there are services in progress. If people are actively worshipping, you shouldn't be doing anything to distract or interfere with that. Wait until services are over. Furthermore, any religious group that doesn't want people playing "Pokemon Go" inside their holy buildings should also be off-limits (with the one possible exception being the Westboro Baptist Church).
Although they aren't the sites of tragedies, the same respect for the dead should still apply; that's why it's kind of a problem that people have been playing "Pokemon Go" at Arlington Cemetery. This also applies to funeral homes and anywhere that any sort of funeral service might be happening. Don't play "Pokemon Go" anywhere near a funeral. And don't play anywhere you can expect people to be grieving their loved ones. Just don't do it.