Joseph Choe

No Pokémon in This Arena

There is an idiom that people use to indicate they have no stake in the outcome of a particular argument.

I don’t have a dog in this fight.

Some may find this idiom to be particularly distasteful.

I remember a company meeting where this specific point came up, where the CEO used this idiom and then a protracted discussion proceeded at some length. Other idioms were suggested, like “no horse in this race”, which some found to be almost as distasteful. The merits in favor of one or the other were drawn up and argued against.

I’m not really fond of meetings that have no specific purpose. I especially dislike meetings that meander into nowhere. This was quickly becoming the case, so to move the meeting along I suggested a replacement idiom, which you now see as the title of this entry.

The company I worked for was filled with people like me, who were very much into things like Star Wars, Marvel, and, of course, Pokémon. So it seemed an appropriate fit. But I was less interested in being clever and much more interested in moving the meeting along to its conclusion.

If you wanted to be pedantic about it, Pokémon as a concept has the same connotations as dogs and dog fights. But because they’re fictional creatures that enjoy fighting each other, it’s fine, it’s fine.

I’ve since heard that people outside the company are using the idiom. I make no claim to having come up with it first. I’m sure others would have made the same connection.

Mostly what I’ve learned from this particular anecdote is that there’s always going to be some amount of pointless ritual and ceremony in any human endeavor, whether that be in a professional setting or not. This discussion on dogs and horses and their bearing on the outcome of a particular argument wasn’t the point. If that wasn’t to be the topic of the day, it was going to be something else.

People like to talk about nothing in particular. Giving them the space to do that is probably as essential to the human condition as anything else.