Pokegrinders: What They Tell Us About Foreshadowing and Plot Building

I thought of the Pokegrinder, all by myself.

So for those of you who don’t play Pokemon GO, it works like this: Your phone buzzes, a cartoon animal appears, and you throw balls at it until it’s caught. I know, it sounds like fun, right?

In doing so, you often catch duplicates of ones you’ve already caught, which is not ideal. So what do you? Well, you transfer them to the Professor, who presumably treats them with ethical kindness, and, in return, gives you a special candy which you can feed to other Pokemon of the same type. Feed them enough candy and they change into a powerful Pokemon.

In practice, it works like this: Click on the Pokemon, click on the “Transfer” button, click “Confirm”, and then the Pokemon disappears and you get the candy.

Walking with Wren around the neighborhood, I found yet another Pidgey (which is, shockingly, a bird) and clicked on the transfer button, saying, “Into the Pokegrinder you go!”

Wren said, “Oh, I don’t like that.” Because Wren forms immediate empathetic connections to all living things, TV characters, and cartoon images of cute animals. Here’s the interesting thing: She knew exactly what process I was envisioning.

And she’s not alone. Since then I’ve used the term a few times, and no one of any age has been confused. I’ve also heard other people use the term (or something similar) without any prompting or priming from me.

And, of course, there are things like this:

Point being, everyone gets this. Or, realistically, just a lot of people. But a lot of people, took transfer to mean something rather a greener shade of Soylent.

What This Tells Us About Stories

This isn’t anything profound or groundbreaking, particularly, but it’s certainly something fascinating, because it is a powerful demonstration of a modern truth of storytelling. If you point in a certain direction, a certain number of people will go that way (also if you don’t).

It’s an example of why, in this era of internet and mass communication, you don’t need to make your plot twists and foreshadowing heavy-handed. In fact it’s better if you don’t. Not very long ago, you had to write your stories in a way that one person, if clever, could reasonably be expect to clue in on things during the process. Same for movies, and so on. Today, it’s enough if one in ten, or one in a hundred people can pick up on it, because everyone will hear the theory, and it’s better to leave them wondering. Consider nearly every revelation on Game of Thrones for a cinematic equivalent.

Like I said, the lesson it’s groundbreaking, it’s just fun to watch linguistic evolution happen in real time.

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