A told B, and B told C
"I'll meet you at the top of the coconut tree!”
Chicka chicka boom boom!
Will there be enough room?
Still more, W, and X, Y, Z!
The whole alphabet up the-
from Chicka Chicka Boom, Boom
written by by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault
illustrated by Lois Ehlert
Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, 1989
Because letters and words are fun and a good way to learn, I requested a magnetic bulletin board for the new children’s room at the newly refurbished Main Library. One of my favorite displays was a set of large magnetic letters. I stuck them to the board in random order and set out some of my favorite abecedaries (ABC books). I’d watch or help the youngest kids put the letters in order. Sometimes I’d craft a message like “Dance to your own tune” or something equally inspiring and trite. Sometimes, older kids would spell words. Surprisingly, I never had a problem with this!
Fast forward a decade or so. We have Wordle! My older daughter was the first to introduce me. Soon, both my daughters were sharing their solves. We had a team of three. That was then. Now our team of eight sends each other our solves (there is hardly ever a miss) and by the end of the day, everyone who solves the puzzle in the least number of tries wins a (virtual) crown. I think we’re all having fun with it.
And the best part for me: You can only play once.
I know there are Wordle knock-offs you can play, but none of them is a one-off. Wordle is just enough to get my brain going in the morning. Then I read for a while before I move on to email and the rest of my mundane chores before my day really begins. Right now my laundry is washing itself. I finished my grocery list. I watched an old webinar I’d been putting off.
But I wondered, where did Wordle come from? According to New York Times, “Wordle Is a Love Story,” (1/3/22). John Wardle created a word game as a gift to his partner. The game caught on fast with his family, friends, and the rest of the world. “On Nov. 1, 2021, ninety people played. On Sunday, just over two months later, more than 300,000 people played. Since Wordle was acquired by the New York Times, participation has declined a little, but seems to have leveled off to about 250,000 games played per day. That seemed like a very low number!
In trying to verify it, I found a stat from The Conversation.com “Wordle has nearly 3 million players across the world and versions of it are appearing in other languages.” And from The Houston Chronicle “[B]y the end of [January, 2022] there were millions.”
Wordle’s easy rules and one-and-done format are part of its attraction. Being able to share answers with friends and family sure seems like a plus for us.
Plenty of people, maybe even most people, spend time playing computer games when their time might be better spent on exercise, learning something new, weeding the garden, conversing face-to-face in real time with friends, family, and acquaintances…
I know “all work and no play makes Jack and Jill dull children (and adults, for that matter), but video game addiction is a real thing. Also called internet gaming disorder, about 3-4% of people who play video games suffer from video game addiction. (GameQuitters.com)
While many researchers consider video game addiction similar to gambling disorder, other equally brilliant scientists claim it is different since gambling is pure chance while gaming requires a skill such as quick fingers or quick thinking. While gambling involves winning money (usually), gaming does not (usually). Both, however deliver that rush of good feeling at a win.
Regardless, The Cleveland Clinic warns “any activity or habit that becomes all-consuming and negatively impacts daily functioning can cause significant mental, social and physical health issues.” If this is you or someone you love, seek medical help.
While researchers are still studying the causes of video game addiction, most agree that it is the rush of dopamine that floods our brains when we win that keeps us coming back for more. A person who is overcome by gaming will usually feel sad or anxious. They need to spend more and more time gaming in order to feel the same excitement and sometimes lie about their behavior. Giving up previously enjoyed activities or social relationships in favor of gaming is also something to watch for. Find a list of symptoms here.
Talk therapy done with a a trained psychologist or psychiatrist is the usual treatment. While many, maybe even most people play video games, researchers at the Cleveland Clinic caution that “it is important to be aware of the amount of time spent playing them.”
I’ve been known to play more than one solitaire game in a row. I have a jigsaw puzzle app, and a version of Angry Birds, too, but for me, nothing beats a walk in the park, tending my plants, and curling up with a good book.
I’m reading Stolen Focus:Why You Can’t Pay Attention and How You Can Think Deeply Again by Johann Hari (Crown, 2022). The author traveled all over the world asking scientists why we are losing our ability to stay “on task” for longer than a few minutes at a time without being distracted. While I’m only at the beginning of his work, he has learned how “we can get our focus back, if we’re willing to fight for it.” Watch him promote his book on YouTube or explain his ideas on depression and addiction in his TED talks.
—Be curious! (and learn a new 5-letter word)
FB: Here’s a sentence with only two five-letter words. The week before the Canfield Fair finds me wishing for one more sunny week before the leaves change. And another one: Enjoy!