If you aren’t aware of Pokemon, then you’re further out of the loop than I am, and I’m talking about something that seems as if it hasn’t been relevant in years. But as social networking has become the most important thing ever, the metaphor that Pokemon has so profoundly explored becomes more and more impressive. What am I talking about? I’ll explain.

Gotta Catch 'Em All

The Pokeball is the standard method of catching Pokemon.

The basic premise of Pokemon is that you “Gotta catch 'em all”. This, oddly enough, is the same premise with social networking. The more friends you have, the more people who like what you’re promoting, or the more people that comment on your status updates, the better. The more different types of people, mindsets, and backgrounds you have, the more likely it is that you will reach someone who understands you, wants what you are selling, or can provide assistance in a situation. Pokemon knew this before Myspace was even theorized.

The Pokedex

Now, you have lots of Pokemon, but that’s not very helpful without some form of organization. To combat this, Pokemon gave us something called a Pokedex. It has random bits of information about each of the Pokemon, such as their weight, size, and type. Myspace and Facebook have similar things called profiles. People fill out these profiles and say their age, professions, relationship status, likes, dislikes, etc. This allows you to know who you are targeting or which Pokemon to use in any given situation.

But you can only use six

Seriously, Magikarp does nothing.

Pokemon originally had 150 types of creatures that you could catch, but you were restricted to using six at any given time. Originally we thought that this was because the scope of the game would be obscene if you could use all 150 at once, but that wasn’t it at all. Pokemon was creating a top list. Social networking sites mirrored this later. Myspace, for example, originally allowed you to pick eight friends that would be listed as your top friends. Why would they do that? It seems like you’re just isolating all of your other Pokemon. But, it makes sense. Just as with your real life friends, experience is only gained when a Pokemon is used in battle, and you learn to trust, love, and depend on specific Pokemon. When you choose your six Pokemon, or your eight Myspace Pokemon, you’re really just saying that these are the friends you trust to fight for you. Sometimes, you change up the order because you hope that another Pokemon can become useful. Sometimes, your friends are just Magikarps (Pokemon #129)that refuse to evolve and can only use splash.

A metaphor for friendship

It’s not just a metaphor for social networking. It’s a metaphor for friendship. You should go out and catch 'em all. Catch all the friends you can, because sometimes a lame Pokemon like Metapod will evolve into Butterfree, and then you win the game. Sometimes your worst enemies become your best friends. And sometimes, if you’re really lucky, one of your Pokemon will make you peanut butter chocolate chip cookies.