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 simply wishing I had my life anyplace close to collectively sufficient that I occurred to personal a bucket.

Now that I’m certainly secure sufficient to be bucket-status, it’s sadly too late. Not only for that individual craze, however for just about all of them. Shared moments of ubiquitous harmless enjoyable are uncommon as of late, and once 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 Inexperienced Sq. Brigade often known as Wordle fanatics.


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 recognition in the ultimate days of 2021. It’s primarily a solo Hangman, with out the macabre specter of dying 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 profitable in solely two or three turns.

As intelligent as its basic idea is, nonetheless, the primary drivers of Wordle’s success appear to be a) that creator Josh Wardle solely releases one puzzle a day and presents no again catalog, leaving hooked gamers craving extra, and maybe extra importantly, b) that its shareability perform is distinct and crowd pleasing. Click on the share button after you end enjoying, and your clipboard now incorporates not solely your rating, however a digital illustration of the color-coded blocks of your recreation, prepared to stick on the social medium of your selection.

Wordle 205 4/6


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

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

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


Wordle 205 47/48

— Benjamin Dreyer (@BCDreyer) January 10, 2022

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

I am the wordle sherrif, 420 6/9

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

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


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

When somebody shares their Wordle rating on-line, they’re not simply bragging about how nicely they did or lamenting the issue of right now’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!

That is the place the backlash kicks in, and nothing generally is a correct development with no pronounced and strong backlash. It’s annoying to face ubiquity from the skin. There’s an virtually oppressive facet to the way in which a fad operates on social media, usually making it really feel as if all of your pals and favourite comedians are all tapping you on the shoulder, one after the other, to say the identical factor. It’s virtually Matrixian. Suspicions mount—there’s all the time the prospect that it is a guerilla advertising and marketing stunt and everyone seems to be gleefully, voluntarily diving right into a promotional pool for Pepsi or another megabrand. In all probability, all of it ends in your information being (additional!) stolen.

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


Wordle’s plunge into vital mass occurred to fall on the identical week because the anniversary of the Capitol riots and its attendant discourse. Every of these inexperienced square-filled tweets additionally appeared to land proper above or beneath one other frenzied dispatch about how the omicron surge in the U.S. is constant to break records in daily COVID cases. This second isn’t merely divisive; it’s hyper-fractured even inside our in-groups. Professional-vaccine, pro-mask folks have lots of completely different concepts about what precisely should be finished to fight the virus: what isn’t sufficient, what’s an excessive amount of, and who’s being neglected in both state of affairs. And individuals who agree that the January 6 assault actually did occur and was, in reality, Unhealthy for Democracy, argue about whether or not their cohort is making too large deal about it, or making a giant deal about it in the incorrect means.

The Capitol riots and the anti-vaccine motion each show how hopping on a bandwagon can go incorrect, and the way there by no means appears to be a bandwagon heading in the appropriate route on points of grave significance.

All of which is why, in such alienating instances, it’s good to discover a huge intersectional connection on one thing as frivolous as a every day phrase recreation.

There may be nothing inherently political about Wordle, past it presumably being dismissed as a recreation for “elites.” No person is sticking it to anyone else by both enjoying it or not enjoying it. And finest of all, it’s not right here to remain. Whereas 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 inclined to do, solely cropping up once more as an finish of the 12 months listicle merchandise. Keep in mind when everybody was tweeting about Wordle?

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