Over the last couple of weeks, my Facebook feed seems roughly evenly split between friends who are posting their Wordle scores and friends decrying people for posting their Wordle scores. The latter group are asking if there is a way to filter out the Wordle posts (their isn’t) and threatening to defriend people who post their Wordle or leave Facebook altogether if people don’t stop. As often as not, when someone says they are going to leave Facebook because of Wordle, someone else will reply: “this isn’t an airport, you don’t need to announce your departure.”
At this point some of you will be nodding your heads in recognition while others will be asking “what is Wordle?” It’s a word guessing game where the object is to guess the five letter word of the day in six guesses or less. You type in a five letter word and when you do so, the squares turn a certain color. A green square means that you have guessed the right letter in the right place. A gold colored square means the letter is in the word of the day but not in the place where you have put it, while a gray square means the letter you have guessed is not in the word.
Each day there is a new word of the day so you can only play the game once each day and everyone who plays the game on any particular day is guessing the same word. It’s a non-commercial venture, there is no charge to play the game and no ads (although it has of course spurred imitations and apps which try to charge you). To play the game go to https://www.powerlanguage.co.uk/wordle/
The game can be easy or challenging depending on how lucky your first guess is and what the word of the day is. A few days ago the word of the day was “wince”. After four guesses I had “ince” correct as the last four letters and reasoning that it was a British website and it was still near enough to Christmas, I guessed “mince” for my fifth guess and so got “wince” as my sixth and final guess.
I confess that I do play Wordle most days and I usually post my scores but sometimes I don’t complete the game. I think what I like about it as that it is truly a noncommercial enterprise. It was invented and is run as a hobby by a software engineer named Josh Wardle (the name of the game is a pun on his last name). Because there is only one word of the day and you can only play that day’s game, there is a limit to how addictive the game can be -- you can’t play it over and over endlessly. Because everyone is playing the same word on any particular day, it creates a sense of both camaraderie and friendly competition. And if you don’t like seeing other people’s scores, it seems to me that you can just scroll on by.
My friend Rabbi Michael Bernstein put it this way: “Whether Wordle today or the fad over Dutch tulips that grabbed the world in 1637, the fad is about the human connection more than the value, the idea, or in our case the seeming need to brag about a game. In other words, if you do Wordle like me and post your results (so far unlike me) you are not doing it to show off but to show up.”
As always, if I can do anything for you or you need to talk, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 301-977-0768 rather than through the synagogue office. Although I am working primarily from home, I am happy to meet you at the synagogue by appointment.
Rabbi Charles L. Arian