“Aren’t you a little old to be collecting Pokémon?”
“Pokémon is for kids, and you’re an adult – grow up!”
“People still play that?!”
“Don’t you have anything better to do with your time and/or money?”
“You’re a teenager now, time to get rid of your kid stuff!”
Sean and I call it Pokémon Shaming, others call it Collector Shaming. For us, it’s when we get put down for liking – no, loving – Pokémon. If you know us in real life, you know that I’m always sporting something Pokémon. My purse is covered in Poké Balls and has a Litten Pokedoll keychain and a Magikarp plush keychain. My wallet is covered in Kanto Pokémon. I always have Pokémon GO up on my phone, no matter where we are, to walk my Buizel. As you know by our Gemr account, we live and breathe Pokémon!
This gets me strange looks, whispers, and comments. The most memorable happened a few months ago at the grocery store. My dad and I were checking out, and an attendant came to see if I needed help getting things onto the conveyor (I had muffins. Just muffins). Pokémon GO was up on my phone as usual, and I was wearing my favorite Pokémon Trainer t-shirt. He looked at my phone, and then my shirt, and sneered.
“Wow, people still play that game?” was his remark.
Before I could say anything, my dad whipped around and said, “Pokémon GO is the number one game in the entire world, still. Of course, people are still playing it!”
Sean’s experience with Pokémon shaming started when he was just 13 years old. He had a card collection that he was proud of, and he played with his friends at school. When he turned 13, it was “time” to be an adult, and almost all of his collection was thrown away. He couldn’t have such kid-things in his life if he was going to be a man. Luckily, one binder did survive that held his entire original Base Set card collection.
Through Gemr, Sean and I have met Pokémon collectors that we would never have met before. We’ve become close with a lot of them, and the conversation always turns to Pokémon shaming. I hear stories all the time about people being put down or picked on because they’re adults and enjoy Pokémon. This has extended to other collecting as well, mainly in the toy industry. It works the same way – the snide comments, the rude looks, and the stories of having things that were loved as a child just tossed in the trash – like trash.
This is heartbreaking to me. It hurts to see someone hurt over something they love and enjoy. While our kryptonite is Pokémon, this can apply to any collection-shaming in general. So, how do you handle this? What is the best way to counter all these things? Can we make it stop?
It’s easy to say, “I don’t care, say what you want!” when in your heart, it does hurt. We’ve lost friends and family over our collection because they think Pokémon is ONLY for kids (it isn’t) and we need to grow up. Before Gemr, it was just me, Sean and my parents enjoying our collection. We started to keep it to ourselves to stop the negativity. I rarely posted about it on Facebook, and I didn’t let on in public about what we had. Even at our favorite card store, I would keep quiet.
That’s my biggest piece of advice for handling this with class and grace – Gemr. The place where your reading this — and the app (it’s on Android and iOS for free!). Remember, while people out in your local area may not get it or understand, there is an entire gaggle of people right in your phone that DO get it. Every one of us is a collector; it’s what we do, it’s what makes us happy. We all understand the sheer joy that comes from getting something new and then being able to share it with our friends, or what I call the Gemr Family.
You can always share and chat about your newest thing, or thought, or idea about your collection, with people who want to hear about it and know more! Back in November 2018, I joined Gemr for the Pokémon Giveaway. I was going to post a few things and stay quiet. Well, you know that didn’t work so well – Sean and I stayed because of the people!
Everyone likes something. Your favorite things might not be someone else’s, but that doesn’t make your collection any less amazing. All it means is that you collect something different. Own your collection. Take pride in it. It helps to ask the person if they collect anything or are partial to anything. Do this in a friendly, curious manner. “Do you collect anything?” or “Is there anything you’re really in to?”
Find common ground. With Pokémon, we can use the age of our chosen franchise to relate to other collectors. I’m a product of the ’80s and grew up in the ’90s, the heyday of Beanie Babies. I had them all (even THAT one) and often refer to those days when looking for common ground. My mom started me into collecting when I was a baby. Her collecting preferences are very different from mine, but I’ve learned a ton from her and will also use that to relate to someone. That’s something you can do as well. You know someone who collects something else (like all the members in the Gemr Family). It’s as easy as remembering something you saw someone post and saying, “My friend on Gemr posted this really cool (thing)” and even pull out your phone to show them. You’ll almost always get a positive reaction.
Your collection makes you happy. It warms your heart. Sean and I recently packed up the last of the stuff in our apartment that wasn’t Pokémon to make room for the ever-growing Pokémon addiction – I mean collection. 7 non-Pokémon things survived the pack up. It makes us happy to be surrounded by Pokémon, and it should make you happy as well to be living in a home with your collection. Your home is your castle. We call our very large 400sqft apartment “The Norton Castle.” It’s been quite interesting to put out every last Pokémon item we own, but none of it is packed up, and it’s achieving its purpose – to make us happy.
You will never please everyone, and not everyone will like or understand what you collect and why. That’s the thing with individuality; we all like different things for different reasons. Some of us collect Pokémon for the nostalgia of childhood. A few started with Pokémon GO. Some collect with their kids. It’s the same across the board with most collections. Whether it be Pokémon like us, or toys, horror, comics, musical instruments, your collection is a part of who you are, and that is something to be proud of.