If you like to play the game “Wordle” on your phone, the list of possible answers is shrinking. The arena of five-letter words is only so large to begin with, but the game’s corporate owner is making it even smaller in an effort to avoid any possible connection with controversial current events.
That makes almost zero sense in any circumstance, but it’s particularly ridiculous when “Wordle’s” corporate master is the New York Times, a newspaper that is absolutely chock full of “trigger words” each and every day.
Why am I ranting about a silly word puzzle? Maybe because it’s yet another sign of the coming apocalypse — which really may be coming this time! — that the word “fetus” was pulled Monday as an answer to the puzzle in order to keep the game “distinct from the news.”
If you’ve never played “Wordle,” I’ll go ahead and warn you doing so is a gateway drug to a world of increasingly more time-consuming word puzzles — Octordle, Waffle, Crosswordle just to name a few — that will become an even bigger obsession than when you used to chew on your fingernails as a child. I’d say don’t do it, but it beats playing “Angry Birds” during boring staff meetings, so go for it, but don’t say you weren’t warned.
For the uninitiated, “Wordle” gives you six tries to guess a five-letter word. The word is pre-chosen by a computer or failed reporter at the NYT. On Monday, that word was “fetus,” which the company says was chosen last year, way before anyone had strong feelings about abortion at all. So when it came up as Monday’s solution, the Times swung into action, trading “fetus” for a less troubling word so as few people as possible might have their minds inadvertently turned to the possibility of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.
This is what it’s come to. There’s a war raging in Europe with Vladimir Putin making noise about WWIII and nuclear war, fires raging across the West, and our two major national political leaders have a combined age of 245 and combined IQ of 60, but the “newspaper of record” is concerned people will completely lose it if they see the word “fetus.” Thank goodness we don’t have THAT to worry about today!
“… Some users may see an outdated answer that seems closely connected to a major recent news event. This is entirely unintentional and a coincidence — today’s original answer was loaded into ‘Wordle’ last year,” the NYT explained. “At New York Times Games, we take our role seriously as a place to entertain and escape, and we want ‘Wordle’ to remain distinct from the news.”
Maybe the NYT felt it was standing up for a woman’s right to choose by electronically aborting “fetus” before it could grow up to become a viable “Wordle” solution. Or can we even call it a solution until it is solved? Before which, guess is it still OK to get rid of the solution? The ethical dilemmas abound.
There’s a certain irony to a newspaper that has run no less than four lengthy pieces in the past day on the court’s possible abortion ruling, trying so hard to spare its customers from having to think about something the NYT editors clearly can’t stop thinking about. Clearly, there’s a belief people are coming to “Wordle” to totally disconnect from the real world, but how long does the NYT think it takes to solve a “Wordle?” I’m not saying you can’t occasionally get stumped for a bit, but 99 percent of the time it hardly requires a “close the blinds and hold all my calls” level of concentration. Perhaps “Wordle” isn’t really the giant escape from reality they make it out to be.
And if the Times is going to banish answers with any connection to the news, they’re going to find themselves scrambling almost daily. What are they going to do if the answer “plane” pops up tomorrow? It might remind people of what’s happening in Ukraine. “Bombs?” “Raids?” “Death?” All are on the front pages right now.
Certainly, it doesn’t have to stop there. The words “white” and “black” might trigger negative feelings about racial issues in our country. “Idiot” will almost certainly have one half of the country thinking about Joe Biden and the other half Donald Trump, and that can’t help anybody relax.
And don’t even think about “elect,” “votes,” “riots” or “polls,” unless you want throngs of triggered “Wordle” players roused from their mindless pursuits to storm important government buildings.
Really, the people at NYT Games even need to think about what’s happening outside of the Big Apple — even in “flyover country.” We should be protected from regionally offensive “Wordle” solutions as well.
Just imagine what could happen if Tim James sat in a cool, quiet place to work on his “Wordle” and the solution was “trans.” Even a triple shot of Botox couldn’t suppress the brow furrowing and grimacing as he torturously punched in those final letters. The man could explode!
Likewise, Gov. Kay Ivey may want to transition from her afternoon nap to happy hour with an amusing game of “Wordle,” only to have the answer “corny” trigger an unstoppable recitation of the lines from her commercials.
If the word “fetus” needed to be replaced, perhaps the Times should just admit word games are too dangerous for the American public at this time and cancel “Wordle” altogether. We simply cannot have people’s minds wandering into current events that could upset them. It might even improve the nation’s productivity.
Then again, maybe silly word puzzles shouldn’t be politicized and sanitized to protect the hyper-sensitive. I know, it’s a “crazy” suggestion.
This page is available to our subscribers. Join us right now to get the latest local news from local reporters for local readers.
The best deal is found by clicking here. Click here right now to find out more. Check it out.
Already a member of the Lagniappe family? Sign in by clicking here