Wordle is 2022’s sourdough starter.
It has had a similar meteoric entrance and bravado on countless social media posts as its gluten counterpart during 2020’s shelter-in-place. Now, Twitter threads, Facebook posts, and journalistic articles are ubiquitous – thirty-two million listings today thanks to a Google search. Even Saturday Night Live featured the now familiar green-gray and yellow square boxes in a recent skit. Wordle is uniting people in the throes of the variant d’jour, who are finding some momentary distraction, challenge, joy, competition, and community in this 30-box-ed graphic.
For those who don’t know, Wordlers boast their skill, fueled by guesses and/or luck in choosing a 5-lettered word in as few tries as possible. You have only up to six tries. Finish in 3 or less and you’re elated. Five or more, meh, you had a bad day.
I’ve read virtual groans in my feeds that this obsession is a distraction from more important creative or intellectual ambitions coming to fruition. Wordle, they write, is an annoying trend – be gone, colored boxes! Is it similar to the fermenting kombucha and meme-apalooza of the past two years? Spinoffs often indicate trends, and a ‘wordle’ type game can be played as Worldle, Absurdle, Lewle, Crosswordle, and more.
So why is it so popular?
Wordle had only 90 players on November 1st, a month after launching. By the end of January, that number skyrocketed into the millions. Worldle reminds us of the importance of words, games, intellectual engagement, agency, socializing, productivity in bite-size pieces (giving ourselves mini-breaks), and our reliance on storytelling all wrapped up in a neat gamified experience. Just a little bit of control and creativity woven around so much strangeness of the pandemic. I love the origin of the game too: it was created as a token of love from Josh Wardle to his girlfriend during the pandemic. It feels endearing…..like Forrest Gump.
Despite Worldle and MindFlow both involving “words,” Wordle’s brevity would, upon first glance, be the opposite of diving into learning a new skill like our faster reading training. Worldle requires slowing down and flexing spatial reasoning of letter placement. This all contrasts with speed reading where you want to “clear the mental canvas” and allow the words and their meanings to wash over you as fast but as deep as possible. The intentions, however, are the same: how do you drop into your own knowledge and skill base to produce a desired result? I’ve no doubt that my years teaching, and those taking the LSAT, GMAT and GRE logic and games assist my guessing the word typically in three or four tries. I never answer in one but have hit two tries a couple of times. I seldom need as many as five or six tries for the “great reveal.”
Will Wordle remain as a bite-sized mind-candy treat? It remains to be seen what will come of it…and keto, intermittent fasting, Peloton and Tik-Tok. Surely the fad cycles will continue churning out new experiences to meet humanity’s curiosity and romance with the ‘novel’. One thing is for sure: we do like words, and with the MindFlow skills, you’ll be able to read about all the trends all the faster.