Within the last couple months or so, my soon-to-be 8-month-old daughter has been transitioning from her diet of the world’s finest breast milk and the occasional formula supplement to breast milk plus formula plus real, actual food.
We started her off with rice pudding (which she tolerates). Then oatmeal (which she likes). Then oatmeal with bananas mixed into it (which she loves). And then mashed-up avocado (which, well, let’s just say I suspect she won’t be eating much guacamole as an adult). Now she eats breakfast, lunch and dinner—some of which now comes from Earth’s Best organic baby-food bottles (which she loves!)—with contrived combinations like “green beans and peaches” and “black cherries and fried oyster.” This also means I can share more of the feeding burden with my wife. Perhaps I don’t have milk-producing breasts, but I do know how to use tiny spoons.
Anyway, this process is usually pretty fun and surprisingly easy. She generally enjoys eating, and although she also enjoys making messes, she loves eating food more than playing in it. There is one (minor) problem, though. I cannot feed her while the TV is on. Because if the TV is on, she will get so distracted by it that she’ll forget to eat. S—t, there have been times when food has been in her mouth, the TV will come on, and she’ll get so distracted, she’ll forget to swallow.
At first I became (slightly) frustrated with this. Mainly for selfish reasons. (It takes her a long-ass time to eat food and sometimes I want to watch Veep while feeding her.) But also because I’d take my ability to multitask—a learned skill—for granted. It’s so easy for me, a grown-ass man, to easily do and think multiple things at the same time that I forget that my daughter’s brain just isn’t developed to that point yet. Also, she’s only been on the planet for eight months. Everything she experiences—every sight, every sound—is new and fascinating to her. So, of course, she’d be distracted by a high-definition 55-inch box with colors and noises shooting out of it. Because she’s a baby.
I thought of my daughter Friday morning when reading a Facebook status about how Pokémon Go is intentionally distracting us from the real issues. And Thursday night, when reading a tweet about how Pokémon Go is intentionally distracting us from the real issues. And Thursday afternoon at the barbershop, while listening to the guy in the chair closest to the door bemoan how “ironic” it is that Pokémon Go became a national thing the week after last week’s police-involved shootings. And the day before that, when reading a news story about Hillary Clinton’s terrible puns about it.
Collectively, these thoughts have led me to two conclusions: 1) I really, really, really need to find new people to talk to. 2) Some people are either very, very, very stupid or just assume most other people are very, very, very stupid. (Or, perhaps, because the stupid people are stupid, they naturally assume most other people are stupid. Which would make the world a vortex of stupidity.)
Now, full disclosure, I don’t know s—t about Pokémon. There could be a Pokémon monkey (Are they called Pokémon monkeys? If not, they should be) sitting on my keyboard right now, and I’d probably think it was an apricot sundae or a stink bug. And I’m perfectly content to live the rest of my life with that lack of knowledge. My cup of Pokémon Go iced tea will go undrunk. All I know is that Pokémon Go is a thing that millions of people seem to be having quite a bit of fun doing right now. So much fun that some are even risking death. (Which makes me suspect that “Pokémon Go” is just a millennial way of saying “base jumping.”)
It also happens to be a thing during one of the more racially and politically tense times I can remember. Police brutality and its effect on black people, the thought of a potential Trump presidency and the LGBTQ community's ongoing fight for equality have all converged to create this burgeoning morass of sociocultural contention. And let’s not even get into the economy, global warming, Kappas at happy hours and other perpetual threats to our daily lives.
Naturally, if we allow ourselves to continue to be distracted by Pokémon Go—doing the things that people who play Pokémon Go do instead of, I don’t know, important things that matter, like retweeting hashtags and starting petitions no one other than your aunts will sign—we’ll fall into the trap that the people who are making Pokémon Go a thing to distract us with have set for us.
Except, no. That will totally not happen. It is possible to be interested and invested in two separate things at the same time. Even if one of those things involves Pokémon monkeys randomly sitting on keyboards. In fact, not only is it possible, but it’s also not hard.
In fact, of all things involved with successfully adulting, doing or thinking about multiple things simultaneously is perhaps the easiest. Seriously, while writing this, I’m also having a debate with a friend on Gchat on whether Love Jones is overrated. (He thinks it is. I disagree.) And so, for the last 45 minutes, I’ve been writing this piece, thinking about my plans for the rest of the day, thinking about food and thinking about Nia Long. (Which I suggest you do if you haven’t done it recently. Thinking about Nia Long for 45 minutes a day every day will probably add four years to your lifespan.)
And if it does happen, if people are so limited in brain function that they're literally incapable of playing with Pokémon monkeys and thinking about #BlackLivesMatter, then there’s literally no use for them anyway. Because if it's not Pokémon monkeys, they’d still be distracted by everything from wind gusts and ghost nipples to wall paint and discarded straws. Basically, they’d be an 8-month-old girl whose first reaction to encountering something new is either 1) biting it or 2) staring at it for three seconds before continuing to bite something else.
Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VerySmartBrothas.com. He is also a contributing editor at Ebony.com. He lives in Pittsburgh and he really likes pancakes. You can reach him at email@example.com.