Two hands hold a silver phone - the person’s nails are painted light brown and they are wearing numerous silver rings.
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Wordle: fad and fun

By Rebecca Richard

 Rebecca Richard dissects the Wordle trend growing on social media and the impact it can have on users.

Typing “AFTER” into my phone has become my new morning ritual, willing the little black squares to flip to green, or at least yellow, for me to feel accomplished at the start of my day.

For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of being plagued by the infuriating letter blocks (or to those out there, like myself, who downloaded a Wordle app and are very confused as to where everyone is sourcing their coloured square breakdowns), Wordle is a web game where players have six guesses to reveal the word of the day. With every guess, the letter tiles will change colour to indicate if the letters are in the word and correctly placed; yellow if the letter is somewhere in the word but in the wrong position, and green if the letter is in the correct position. For any romantics who may appreciate it, the game was developed by Josh Wardle, who created the game to satisfy his word-puzzle-loving wife. However, the game has since been sold to The New York Times

Aside from the satisfaction of guessing the word correctly before I roll out of bed in the morning, I’ve found the social aspect of Wordle brilliant. While at a party recently, where I didn’t know many of the attendees, suddenly the whole group was united as we discussed how ridiculously difficult the “vivid” Wordle from several days before had been, as well as sharing our outrage at the audacity of The New York Times expecting everyone to know the word “caulk” or the American spelling of “rumor”. I’ve loved the Wordle discussions at social events lately, with such a widely used puzzle providing great small talk opportunities with acquaintances. My friend and I also send each other our Wordles every morning, it’s a nice daily conversation starter. 

Although the social aspect is good fun, Wordle is definitely a bittersweet fad for me. I’d be lying if I said I haven’t spent many library “study” sessions focusing more on a particularly frustrating Wordle than my unedited dissertation document lying open in front of me. 

As well as the time-consuming, procrastination side to Wordle that I’ve become well-accustomed to lately, during one of my periodic Reddit deep-dives I came across a thread discussing Wordle and dyslexia. The thread was talking about how it feels to have dyslexia during a word puzzle craze, and how difficult it can be to see everyone posting their impressively speedy guesses of the daily word. As an avid Wordle user, who has always loved crosswords and wordsearches, it had never occurred to me that it isn’t a fun, quick puzzle for everybody. Several of the users discussed how disheartening it is to see everyone posting their Wordle triumphs when they can’t join in, or when they try to, it just isn’t the same satisfying experience when letters can be difficult to navigate. One user stated they feel they’re missing out because they have difficulties with spelling, another that it brought up unpleasant memories of struggling with reading as a child. However, one account did say they enjoyed Wordle despite being dyslexic, as there is no time limit and no penalties for errors, so I think it’s important not to write off the entire game as harmful and unsuitable for certain groups. 

Although I can’t fully understand this issue, I’m glad this experience has been brought to my attention. I don’t think anyone intends to cause harm by publicising their daily Wordle efforts, and in the grand scheme of things to do online, it is pretty harmless. However, it did make me think; does my entire social media following need to see my Wordle attempts every day? Probably not. But sharing it to a few friends individually, who also play, is a bit of fun. 

If you’re struggling with comparing your abilities to others, or not able to join in at all, you’re not the only one. A couple of Reddit users mentioned they have muted “Wordle” from their Twitter timelines, which might be a helpful option. Given the social importance attributed to Wordle that I’ve noticed at social events lately, I empathise with those who don’t find Wordle fun, and feel they can’t join in on the community fury towards a particularly difficult word. I think the important thing to remember is, it is just a fad at the end of the day. It’ll die down as quickly as it rose to fame and people will move onto the next big thing, so hang in there. 


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