Crossword Hysteria in 1920. The Effect of the New Game on the Society

Crossword Hysteria in 1920. The Effect of the New Game on the Society
Crossword Hysteria in 1920

When we think about crossword we usually associate this activity with respectability. We imagine a person who sits quietly in his chair with a pen and newspapers trying to find E words that will fit in the crossword. You will be surprised, but in 1920s, when crosswords have just appeared it wasn’t like that.
Crosswords were a new type of intellectual entertainment for people. It can be compared with an exciting video game that everyone wants to buy. That’s how people of the twentieth century viewed crosswords. One can call it a real hysteria and it would be a right statement.
Crosswords turned into a mania and the headings of newspapers had titles like “CROSS-WORD PUZZLES. AN ENSLAVED AMERICA”. Socialists viewed crosswords as a menace since it destroyed the common way of life. People spent too much time doing crosswords and looking, for instance, for some R words or words that start with D, including time that they had to spend for work. Many families have become the victim of this new game since husbands were spending hours doing crosswords instead of earning money. Besides, people spent all their free time searching for the four letter answer among the words that start with T. Sociologists believed that it had bad impact on communication in the society because all people were obsessed with crosswords. There were also cases when families collapsed because one of the spouses didn’t pay enough attention to the family’s issues. As a result, it lead to misunderstandings, quarrels, and divorces. Crosswords became a new type of addiction that captured many countries all over the world.
The United States were not the only country that suffered from crosswords’ mania. In Canada and the Great Britain newspapers’ headings announced that crosswords damaged not only social wellbeing. Libraries faced the real disaster because the huge crowds of crossword solvers were searching the dictionaries for S words or W words. In Wimbledon Library, it was decided to withdraw all volumes to prevent damage.
Beside social problems that appeared with crosswords, booksellers also started experiencing rough times. Their sales have decreased dramatically and the reason was crosswords. People didn’t want to buy novels; they were interested only in dictionaries and glossaries, looking for words starting with O.
The Times wrote that the time and energy that people spent to solve crossword could be directed to a more useful stream. For example, people were able to read an instructive book or have an intellectual conversation. Hours spent doing crosswords and searching for words that start with M didn’t make people more intelligent. People didn’t become wiser doing crosswords because they didn’t learn anything new. They wasted time on what was no more than a way to entertain themselves.
Many people of that time were very obsessed with crosswords. They wanted to become the best crossword solver and to take part in a competition where they could demonstrate their skills. Psychologists said that it is the human nature, we desire to receive something for nothing. That’s why the hysteria was so serious.
Today people also like doing crosswords, though their popularity is lower comparing to the 1920s and there is no maniac hysteria about this game. Crosswords have turned into a pleasant time-spending and the majority of people who do crosswords don’t go too far and view it only as an opportunity to spend a few extra hours and test skills and knowledge.


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