Every morning when I unlock my phone, the first thing I see are those damn black, yellow, and green squares announcing the failure or triumph of my friends and acquaintances. Yes, like John Carpenter's The Thing, or the latest Pete Davidson headline, Wordlemania is truly inescapable.
The simple but compelling word game has infected every corner of the internet over the past week or so, and I'm already tired of it. But my issue with it has little to do with the game itself, but rather the sense of obligation that it triggers in me with every passing day — and how that lurking FOMO has become the calling card of so many games over the past few years.
Mad because bad — Look, I'll just be honest: part of the reason that I resent Wordle is the fact that I'm lousy at word games. Despite being a professional writer for my entire adult life, I'm simply not very good at jigsawing words together from lingering letters. (There's also my sneaking suspicion that having a uselessly-large vocabulary actually makes you worse at Wordle past the first two guesses or so, but that's besides the point.)
Thus, having a daily reminder to engage with a style of game that I don't particularly enjoy — and actively causes me embarrassment at my own incompetence — isn't exactly fun to me. That said, I do take the ten minutes to try my hand at the latest puzzle when I have some time to spare, and I usually manage to guess the correct word within a semi-respectable four or five tries. (Usually — we don't talk about the other times.)
Posting L's — To tell the truth, I've accepted the fact that my friends are better at Wordle than me — it's just one of those things you have to get over. What I can't accept, however, is the number of online acquaintances that are brave enough to "share" their X/6 failures on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. Perhaps I'm just a private person — or an insecure one, let's be honest — but the idea of showing all of my wonderful social media followers that I am, in fact, Bad At Words is a bit mortifying.
But while I can understand how that varies from person to person, the one thing I can't forgive Wordle for is the time-limited nature of the puzzles. There's something about missing a trick that four of my friends managed to conquer while I was too busy washing dishes on a random Sunday that triggers the same social anxiety I experience when my friends beat a Destiny 2 raid without me. And I doubt I'm the only one.
Feasting on FOMO — Game developers have been mining our collective fear of missing out for years now. From daily events in live games to the dreaded battle pass, today's video games are constantly dangling a carrot with a lit fuse in front of your face. I think we can all agree that we live in an age of profound anxiety, so why do we need our games to remind us that Today's Unique Puzzle will self-destruct in 51 minutes, like a fire sale for purple gear. Every day is Black Friday in video game land, and I'm tired of it.
Like Words With Friends before it, Wordle is a simple game that appeals to about the broadest demographic possible, and there's nothing wrong with that. In fact, there's nothing wrong with it at all. It's a fun little mirror that I'm projecting all of my usual anxieties onto — and there's nothing I can resent more than that.