Have you ever been stuck in a particularly heavy rain storm? Sheltered under the same eave as a stranger? Did you feel an impulse to share the details of your life with them?
For thousands of people, the online game Kind Words is like this eave, a chance to escape the pressure of reality and find someone to turn to.
The game allows users to anonymously write letters, and receive kind and anonymous replies from others.
When I first came to Australia, I found it difficult to make local friends or friends from other cultures. I wrote a letter about it. It was truly comforting to read the replies, all of them telling me “I felt the same way” and “I know the feeling”.
One of the letters was F, who had spent a year on exchange. “Try to make it through despite the awkward feelings,” they suggested. Another was from J. “I’ve been living in the UK for 5 years,” J said, “but it was not until I moved to Germany that I realised they are actually keen to know you.”
When I started studying journalism, I was not confident enough about writing news articles in English as it is not my first language. R told me, “People appreciate it when you try to speak English regardless of how broken it is. Time and practice is your friend.” P said their English was “rusty” when they first started working, but now they are “leading a team for a company that only uses English.” S talked about a journalist they knew who wrote news in English, but still had problems with grammar. “Everyone gets frustrated and makes mistakes when they first start working. But it gets better when they have more experience. Don’t get nervous,” S said.
When writing this article, I wrote a letter to ask other users about their experience with Kind Words.
“It has helped me get over imposter syndrome, break-ups, DID (Dissociative identity disorder), and more,” C said. P enjoys getting replies from strangers who can sympathise with them and offer advice from experience.
H said that love from family can be too heavy for them. In their opinion, we should learn to face the problems alone, but it’s lucky to have this place to receive support from strangers.
Sometimes we hesitate to share our problems with our families, as we don’t want them to worry about us too much. When we share it with strangers, they become our “stranger families”.
During COVID-19 especially, many people around the world experienced being forcefully separated from their loved ones. When we are stuck outside of our home country, our families may feel more anxious if we tell them our problems, as they are not physically by our side.
“I found this game through a VTuber who has kept me company in some of my saddest times,” said K in their letter. K was touched when watching the VTuber cheer others up through Kind Words. That inspired K to use Kind Words to make “people smile”.
Thanks to the internet, we all live in a global village. Despite our diverse nationalities and ethnic backgrounds, we share similar worries, and we all need healing and encouragement. Kind Words lets you check in on your neighbours, near and far. I found a family in Kind Words. You might find another family-like space on the internet that supports you. As C told me, these communities are “a wonderful reminder to be kind.” With a little more kindness, we can make this strange world more like one big family.