What is it about increasing a streak count that is so satisfying? (Illustration Credit: Timothy R. Butler/DALL-E/Stable Diffusion)

Call Me Streaky

By Timothy R. Butler | Posted at 8:41 PM

Last night I was exhausted, but I was manipulating the database code behind one of our sister sites. Not because disaster had struck for others using the site, but to save a game streak I’d been nudging along. I hate losing streaks.

Our sister site FaithTree.com offers a couple of games — Biblicle, a Wordle-like game with words from the English Bible, and Anagramle, an anagram game. I wrote those back during the height of the Wordle craze and have played them dutifully every day since.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a problem connecting to the game and it messed up my continual streak of playing even though I had in fact played. Being the developer has its advantages: I logged into the backend and tried to fix the incorrectly broken streak. Alas, it made things worse, erasing all of my statistics from the 600 rounds that have come and gone since February 2022.

With too much to do right now, the sane thing would have been to shrug and let those stats fade away. Instead, I found myself tinkering with the database in the early morning, coaxing my game statistics back into shape. (Accurately, lest you think otherwise — I put in my games lost too.)

As I contemplated my strange drive to preserve that streak, and the related data, I found myself musing on streaks and their significance to me.

For example, I do a bit of study of German every day, even though I do not have a pressing need to use it right now. I have a nearly 2,000-day streak of study at stake. The pressure over halting that accomplishment is enough to push me to work on grammar or vocabulary even when exhausted.

I love keeping a streak going. No matter what kind, it is the principle of the thing.

A few years ago, on my birthday, my parents gave me a “pizza tour” with each day of the week featuring a different pizza from the delectable varieties around St. Louis. As the “tour” wound down, I remember ordering a Mexican pizza at Taco Bell on the first pizza-less day to kick the streak can down the road one more time.

I’m not the only one who loves streaks. There’s a reason that Duolingo not only keeps track of streaks but lets one earn “streak freezes” to preserve a streak on a day off and sells “streak repair” if one runs out of “streak freezes.”

We track streaks all over the place. Call me melancholy for a baseball postseason that was not to be this year for my team, the Cardinals, but I found myself thinking back to two years ago when that same team broke a franchise record for the longest winning streak. To say the city was abuzz over a streak is an understatement.

My little contribution to the Cardinals? Every game I have gone to the stadium for has been a winner. (Yes, Cardinals President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak, if you want to sign me to a long-term contract with the Cards, the e-mail address at the bottom of this article works fine.)

There’s a comfort in a chaotic world to a streak. Knowing that one is accomplishing something and accomplishing it consistently (or at least one’s team is) feels like a refreshing breath of order. Be it playing a word puzzle game like Wordle or Biblicle, or language learning or whatever, the idea that 10 or 15 minutes of daily life can be formed into a consistent habit — a streak — in contrast to the uncertainty we so often face sure is nice.

Streaks may not be life or death matters, but sometimes a dash of consistency is the comfort that life needs. A comfort even worth a late night database editing expedition.

Timothy R. Butler is Editor-in-Chief of Open for Business. He also serves as a pastor at Little Hills Church and FaithTree Christian Fellowship.

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