‘Wordle’ and The Daily Confidentiality

"There is a unity that Wordle has introduced us to—which, in all its absurdity, is a rather pleasant experience on social media."

Tiny grids with specific shades of black, yellow and green started doing rounds on Twitter in early January. The lack of explanation for these similar looking tweets injected everyone with a harmless curiosity. As always, the internet jumped on the bandwagon, adopted Wordle and relentlessly flaunted this adoption. 

There are several theories across the internet that attempt to explain how Wordle has become a trend of such magnitude. Nearly all of these thought blocks have an open ending that proposes several theories but never really boils the argument down to a concrete explanation for the game’s undying presence. In the middle of an information and technology fatigue, more and more people are committing to Wordle and including it in their daily routines. This kind of commitment otherwise eludes individuals in our society with each passing daywhether it be in terms of eating, in the workplace, in relationships or even self-care. 

Wordle has managed to spill out of Twitter feeds onto the physical spaces of our lives. One of London’s Underground Metros Stations called Green Park dons a new art instalment which is quite clearly inspired by the visual of a Wordle scoreboard. The game has met other standards of success as well. For instance, it has now been acquired by The New York Times, the crossword oligarch. Shortly after becoming a sensation, Wordle has also been adopted and recreated in more than 40 different languages. 

Other than encroaching our self-image with a rather shallow sense of linguistic achievement, this latest crossword has ensured that our social media activity is soaked with a sportsman-like decorum and an artist-like encouragement. It has not monitored our expression as much as it has our behaviour. Every day internet users hold onto the collective secret that is the day’s Wordle solution. Social media is often avoided during big cinematic releases for the fear of spoilers. But this fear has minimal consequence when it is presented with a ripe opportunity to ruin a stranger’s everyday ‘morning coffee with Wordle’ routine. There are casual brags about solving the puzzle easily or a playful expression of anger when the word seems too tricky to crack but these outbursts are devoid of a revelation that might ruin the puzzle for other social media users. 

The Wordle origin story is rather romantic and fits into the modern-day tech-specific context like a dream. Josh Wardle created this puzzle exclusively for his girlfriend and devised a clever wordplay by naming it as a spin on his own surname. The little elements around the game’s narrative have humanised it for us in a post-pandemic world where digitisation of anything and everything is rapid to the point of being overwhelming. 

Wordle seems anachronistic in lockdown obsessions that began with games like PubG (which was a shooting game), painted in hints of violence. Even the adrenaline rush we seek has evolved over the course of living through a global emergency. In contrast to hours of time investment, the internet audience has turned towards a puzzle that mercilessly allows them just one game per day, which can be solved within minutes, or seconds, if you are a Wordle maestro. 

Bhasker Malu, a PhD. scholar at Christ University explains how the concept of ‘shared reality theory’ comes into play in fostering a sense of community amongst Wordle players. Interacting with people who share similar ideas on a rather subjective topic tends to build strong bonds of solidarity. If there is one thing that sets Wordle apart from every fad we’ve been part of, it would be the communal harmony the puzzle has unintentionally facilitated. 

Whatever your proficiency level may be, Wordle rewards you with a sense of belonging to this word game clique, as though an exclusive community. It’s a bit like iPhone owners bonding over a missing adapter rather than the device itself. You’re in the Goldilocks zone of word games where you are neither the solipsistically elite Crossword solver, nor a plebeian who strays far from the cognitive fun of word association. 

Beyond comprehending what makes Wordle so dear to us, one must pause and acknowledge how the circadian puzzle has made us respect other’s paces. Having solved Wordle at the stroke of midnight, the player sportingly waits for the rest of the community to arrive at the solution. Wordle, in that sense, becomes a model of community we may aspire to be a part of. There is a unity that Wordle has introduced us to—which, in all its absurdity, is a rather pleasant experience on social media. An imitation of a similar unity in a more social, political or cultural sense might sound like a stretch but will surely be as gratifying as it would be harmless. 


Vaishnavi Singh
Vaishnavi enjoys writing theoretical literary essays and children's stories. She works with a museum and uses the remainder of her time to write, read and go for walks, where she takes the long way home.