Kindness Begets Kindness | A look at Kind Words
Kind Words sets out to foster a community of anonymous pen pals that, as the name states, sends kind words to one another. Imagine the emo phase you probably went through where you vented in a journal. Now imagine that someone actually responded! Kind words in 2020 seems more like a misnomer than anything, but what I found was far deeper than what I could have imagined.
It’s safe to say that we’ve grown up in a time where a lot of those that play games have known the internet since they were in high school, and many well before that time. There is no doubt that even when comparing myself, someone that sort of grew up with the internet, but didn’t have an actual internet connected cell-phone until college, to someone that hasn’t known a world without the internet; our lives are drastically different, as are our personalities, sensibilities and so on. The one commonality? The overbearing, ultra-inclusive world of social media and connection.
The internet, quite possibly one of the most important inventions of our time, is intrinsically tied to our DNA. We use it for any and every task, and we feel lost without its connection. There are retreats to get away from technology, a lot of times specifically the gravitational pull of social media. That endorphin drip of getting a like, follow or any other interaction is nearly unmatched. But not so hidden from the virtuous side of the social media is the far more sinister shadow side. The dog piling, the cyber-bullying and the outright harassment which is far too common. We tend to forget (or some just don’t care) that someone else is on the other side of these 140 characters. That someone could be going through trials in their life and are looking for a reprieve on social media. While I believe that is personally misguided, it’s hard to take a step back when you are the star of your play. But what if there was a place that you could open yourself up to a stranger, and they would respond in kind based on their experiences with a similar challenge. Well that is the essence of Kind Words by Popcannibal.
The full title, Kind Words (lo fi chill beats to write to), is just that. You write and receive letters while listening to lo fi beats.
You have can do the following handful of things:
- View a request – This is where you view things others have written. These are things like people venting, asking for advice, trying to find words of encouragement, etc.
- Write a Request – This is where you actually write the above. Having a bad day? Maybe ask for coping methods. Unsure of how to make a tough choice? Ask for some advice.
- Say nice things – Exactly as it states. Often in forms of quotes or lyrics, you say nice things, and users can click the floating paper airplanes with these messages of encouragement within their room.
- Check your inbox – Ah… the dopamine drip. It would be a lie if I said that the time I wrote a request and had but a single response didn’t feel a bit disheartening. Does this completely go against the intention of the title, sure, but I think that is just past trauma that is embedded in each one of us. Usually, there are a handful of deeply insightful responses from fellow users. Pro Tip: Write a message before you go to bed, and then open the responses in the morning for an incredible way to start your day.
- Decorate – Outside of gaining some incredible advice, kind words, and the idea that others are dealing with similar things, you can send stickers when responding to messages, and receive them when people respond to yours. This selection of stickers can be placed all around your room to spruce things up a bit.
All of the above is set upon a backdrop of a lo fi aesthetic, purple and pink hues with some incredible lo fi beats by Clark Aboud. But, the real power comes with one of Popcannibal’s main tenants with Kind Words: it is anonymous, and from the sounds of it, they want to keep it that way.
I’ve received some incredible and deeply thought out messages, and I have certainly hoped for the ability to further pen pal with anonymous user X. But, would shirking the cloak of anonymity negatively impact our discourse? I have to lean towards yes. Whether it be what a person looks like, their nationality, past experiences, or really anything, we all share one thing in common… baggage. Such an innocuous word with (potentially) deeply painful possessions. The power of Kind Words is in its anonymity. Let’s take a similar prompt I’ve responded to: “I’ve been struggling with nervousness that is severely impacting my life, and I don’t really know how to control it. Any tips?” I felt wholly capable in responding since I too have faced the same struggle and have developed some great strategies in dealing with it. Would this person have felt comfortable enough to voice this to me in public? Doubtful. Would I have felt comfortable divulging intimate information in person to someone I didn’t know? Probably not. With the cloak we each wear, we are able to openly express ourselves where normally we would be placated with fear. The only thing they see as a clue to who the sender is, is a dash and an initial. The only thing I have to “judge” is the message I had opened and responded with kind words.
The whole premise behind Kind Words can be distilled down to the saying: kindness begets kindness. You’re probably used to the more traditional expression, violence begets violence, but it is all the more true with kind words. Being kind is infectious. Think of the last time that someone did something kind to you. Did you turn right around and yell at the barista because your latte took a little bit longer to make than normal? Most likely not. You probably shrugged it off, and ensured the barista that it’s all good. It’s easy to be kind when someone is kind to you.
No matter the persona, or ego we try to exude, we live for those little moments where someone notices an achievement, provides words of encouragement or simply shoot a smile our way. These little acts of kindness can turn your day around, your week around or even your life around. I sincerely think that’s why a hug feels so great. Two people literally opening up to one another (yes, an act of kindness) without saying a word.
After having played Kind Words for roughly four hours, I’ve not yet run into a troll. It’s almost as if toxicity doesn’t exist in this little corner of the gaming world. The only potential touchy messages come in the form of potential self-harm, and this is something that Popcannibal clearly foresaw. They placed a help button on the main screen and the screen where you write or respond to kind words. The help button has a listing of resources such as help hotlines. Those types of queries are few and far between. Most of the requests are questions about daily challenges a lot of us face, which makes it all the easier to reach out since there is at least someone out there that has/or is going through a similar challenge.
Kind Words, at a quick glance, is an anonymous pen pal game. You write words and receive them back, but judging strictly on its mechanics would be selling it drastically short. Kind Words is listening with such an ear that remains untainted by baggage from the sender or the receiver. It’s providing a faint smile or shimmer of hope to someone in need or, just as often, finding a guiding light as you struggle through your personal darkness. Consider this a gentle reminder that kindness exists, and when it is sorely needed, you will always find it.