Has anyone else noticed that “Words with Friends” has hit a critical tipping point? I was hunched over my iPhone at the grocery store yesterday, desperately trying to land my K on a triple letter space, when the teenager behind me in line looked over and said, “My mom is obsessed with that game!” (I should have asked for her user name.) I knew it had crossed some sort of threshold when my 13-year-old son invited me to play. I think he decided it was cool after Alec Baldwin got booted from that American Airlines flight for refusing to turn off a cutthroat match on his phone. Or, more likely, after Baldwin showed up on SNL’s Weekend Update to make fun of–or was it glorify?–himself in a cameo as the pilot of the flight he departed. When Seth Meyers asked “Captain Rogers” about a report that Baldwin slammed the bathroom door in anger, he replied, “Words with Friends can be frustrating! When you think you’re about to play JAILERS off someone’s QUICHE and then you realize you don’t have the I–let me tell you, that’ll make you slam the bathroom door!”
I know how he feels. A relatively early adopter of WWF, I have played hundreds of games against friends, acquaintances, colleagues, relatives, friends of relatives, relatives of friends, my children, my friends’ children, friends of my children, and pretty much anyone else who has ever challenged me. The upshot is that I have become completely unproductive in every other area of my life. Breakfast dishes overflow the kitchen sink, the laundry remains unfolded, and I am behind deadline on every single project I’m working on. But never mind; I just played QUA for 44 points! FADE for 48 (triple word, triple letter on the F)! And EMPLOYEE for 63! Too bad I won’t likely be one for much longer. I may have to take a page from Bill Gates, who allegedly had Minesweeper removed from his computer because he couldn’t get any work done. Even as I write this post, I keep checking my cell phone to see if it’s my turn, if maybe one of my opponents has opened up a place for me to play my Z.
I suppose there are worse ways to entertain oneself–Minesweeper, for starters, or watching botched eHarmony videos on YouTube. Words with Friends is relatively easy to justify: it’s educational! I’m socializing (in a detached sort of way)! I’m improving my vocabulary while I boost my self esteem!
But even I know that’s a bunch of hooey (is that a playable word?). Words with Friends is just my latest time waster–better than the refrigerator, not as constructive as exercise. All it does is allow me to demonstrate for my kids what procrastination looks like, and they clearly don’t need any help with that. My eldest daughter was so desperate for distraction while studying for finals last week that she begged me to model my new jeans for her! With several different pairs of shoes!
Even so, I have to admit I’m delighted to be interacting with my son, who would never sit down and play an actual game of Scrabble with me. He’s pretty good, too. I’d better go block the triple-word.