In defense of harmless bandwagons in 2022

My first thought upon discovering out about the Ice Bucket Challenge a number of years in the past was that I needed I had my life wherever close to collectively sufficient that I occurred to personal a bucket.

Now that I’m certainly steady sufficient to be bucket-status, it’s sadly too late. Not only for that specific craze, however for just about all of them. Shared moments of ubiquitous harmless enjoyable are uncommon today, and after they do crop up, they are typically in the shape of issues like Tik Tok sea shanties, which might pressure each my vocal skills and dignity.

So, it was with nice pleasure and curiosity final week that I joined the Green Square Brigade of Wordle fans.


Wordle, to anybody who has one way or the other not but encountered it, is a digital phrase recreation that arrived last October and exploded in reputation in the ultimate days of 2021. It’s basically a solo Hangman, with out the macabre specter of loss of life hanging over it, drawing on deductive reasoning, course of of elimination, and breadth of vocabulary. Wordle is simply tough sufficient to make debt-laden English majors really feel happy with themselves for successful in solely three turns.

As intelligent as its common idea is, nevertheless, the principle drivers of Wordle’s success appear to be {that a}) there’s just one puzzle a day and no again catalog, leaving hooked gamers craving extra, and maybe extra importantly, that b) its shareability operate is distinct and crowd pleasing. Click the share button after you end taking part in, and your clipboard now incorporates not solely your rating, however a color-coded block abstract of your gameplay, excellent for pasting on the social medium of your alternative.

Wordle 205 4/6



Is this good y’all? This is my first wordle…

— NYT Least Relevant Notable of 2021 Jeremy O Harris (@jeremyoharris) January 10, 2022

It’s a suggestion Wordle gamers couldn’t refuse. In truth, so many of them started sharing their outcomes over the previous couple weeks that the Wordle rating tweet rapidly turned meme fodder.

Wordle 205 47/48


— Benjamin Dreyer (@BCDreyer) January 10, 2022

howdy howdy howdy
???? ⬜️ ????
???? ???? ????????
???? ????
???? ????
???? ????

I’m the wordle sherrif, 420 6/9

— Peggy is a trans woman who attracts stuff. Follow her. (@egypturnash) January 5, 2022

[youth pastor voice] wordle? whose WORD ‘LL change your life?


— J.R.R. Jokin (@joshcarlosjosh) January 9, 2022

When somebody shares their Wordle rating, they’re not simply bragging about how nicely they did, or lamenting the problem of that day’s puzzle, they’re additionally reveling in the ubiquity itself. That factor completely everybody appears to be doing? Buckle up, bitches—I’m doing it too!

This is the place the backlash kicks in, and nothing is usually a correct pattern with out a pronounced and sturdy backlash.

It’s annoying to face ubiquity from the surface. There’s an virtually oppressive side to the best way a fad operates on social media, making it really feel as if all of your folks and favourite comedians are all tapping you on the shoulder, one after the other, to say exactly the identical factor. It’s virtually Matrixian. Suspicions mount—there’s at all times the prospect that it is a guerrilla advertising stunt and everyone seems to be gleefully, voluntarily, diving right into a promotional pool for Pepsi or another megabrand. Probably, all of it ends in your information being (additional!) stolen.

But the chore of having to seek out out what the hell all people is tweeting about now feels extra like a privilege at this explicit second than ordinary.

Wordle’s plunge into important mass occurred to fall on the identical week because the anniversary of the Capitol riots and the attendant discourse. Each of these inexperienced square-filled tweets additionally appeared to land proper above or under one other frenzied dispatch about how the omicron surge in the U.S. is continuous to break records in daily COVID cases. This second isn’t merely divisive; it’s hyperfractured even inside our personal in-groups.

Pro-vaccine, pro-mask individuals have quite a bit of completely different concepts about what precisely have to be executed to fight the virus: what isn’t sufficient, what’s an excessive amount of, and who’s being missed in both situation. And individuals who agree that the January 6 assault did truly occur and was, in truth, Bad for Democracy, argue about whether or not their cohort is making too huge a deal about it, or making a giant deal about it in the mistaken means.

The Capitol riots and the anti-vaccine motion each display how hopping on a bandwagon can go mistaken, and the way there by no means appears to be a bandwagon heading in the fitting course on points of grave significance. All of which is why, in such alienating instances, it’s good to discover a large intersectional connection on one thing as frivolous as a day by day phrase recreation.

There is nothing inherently political about Wordle, past it presumably being dismissed as a recreation for “elites.” Nobody is sticking it to anyone else by both taking part in it or not taking part in it. And finest of all, it’s not right here to remain. While the sport itself could linger on-line for years, the phenomenon of sharing one’s rating is destined to flame out rapidly, as these items are likely to do, solely cropping up once more as an end-of-the-year listicle merchandise. Remember when everybody was tweeting about Wordle?

This second is the candy spot for embracing our new, non-problematic Tiger King; that factor everybody did in the course of the pandemic to be a component of one thing, and to really feel rather less alone. Hop aboard this completely nice bandwagon to nowhere, earlier than it’s too late.

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