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It’s time to say sorry (Image: Tina Tiller)

OPINIONMediaJanuary 13, 2022

Those coloured boxes on Twitter are New Zealand’s fault

It’s time to say sorry (Image: Tina Tiller)

Twitter is being flooded with coloured emojis following the rise in popularity of the word game Wordle. New Zealand is to blame and now, rightfully, we should apologise, argues Stewart Sowman-Lund.

It’s obvious: New Zealand simply has to apologise to Twitter users around the globe after it was revealed we were responsible for the ability to share Wordle results directly to social media.

Once again, our small island nation has punched above its weight and made it onto the world stage. But unlike the time when Peter Jackson made Lord of the Rings, this is more like when he made The Hobbit – and now it’s time to ask for forgiveness. 

Since the end of 2021, the rise in Wordle’s popularity has seen Twitter ablaze with mysterious green, yellow and grey boxes, often followed by numbers and the name “Wordle”. It’s now been revealed that New Zealand is to blame for the mildly irritating social media trend, prompting the need for an urgent apology to the world for clogging up everybody’s feeds.

Wordle, for those uninitiated, is a pleasingly simple and addictive daily word game that originated in the United States. Players get six attempts to guess a five-letter word and each day there’s a new word to guess. It was created late last year by Brooklyn-based software designer Josh Wardle (yes, he named Wordle after himself), who originally made the game for his partner. Initially played by fewer than 100 people, it has since boomed and, in under three months, has developed a devoted fanbase of more than two million users – many of whom are in New Zealand. 

A previous image had today’s Wordle for which we very much apologise (Image / Wordle)

Wardle this week described New Zealand as being “really into Wordle” and said it’s “astounding” how many of us play the game given the size of our population.

Along with being early adopters and very vocal advocates for the game, it’s been revealed that New Zealanders were also responsible for the decision to allow easy sharing of results on Twitter with the use of coloured emoji squares. The trend first started after New Zealand users of the game decided to manually enter their Wordle results onto Twitter using the coloured box emojis. It’s both embarrassing and, I guess, slightly admirable that New Zealanders chose to manually input those little coloured boxes to their Twitter. But it was definitely a boon for the creators of the coloured box emoji because nobody had ever used those before Wordle came along.

The efforts of those early New Zealand players were all it took for the game’s creator to notice us down here and decide to make it easier for Twitter to become one long advert for Wordle, introducing the share function that automatically generates the emoji boxes in an at-first-subtly-pleasing-but-later-subtly-infuriating coloured grid.

“The emoji grid just leaves the colours and it’s a way for you to share how you did without ruining the game for others, which has really led to this communal aspect specifically on Twitter,” Wardle explained to RNZ.

Instead of expressing any regret over the decision to allow easy sharing to Twitter, Wardle appears to still be in support of the move. Others have become, if not infuriated, at least mildly agitated by the arrival of the coloured squares.

“I shall probably never play ‘Wordle’ because games that market themselves by encouraging users to spam Twitter annoy the piss out of me,” said one person.

Another simply said: “Nobody cares about your Wordle performance.” 

One anonymous source even admitted to The Spinoff that despite sharing their own Wordle result a handful of times, they now felt angered by the proliferation of the emojis on their Twitter feed. “I wish there was a simple way I could hide the emojis, perhaps a mute function,” they mused.

While an apology for the social media trend is unlikely to see Wordle score-sharing come to an end, it will be a step in the right direction, encouraging international Twitter to forgive New Zealand for the casual annoyance so they can return to aimlessly dreaming of one day being able to visit us instead. 

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