Why Are There So Many Lists?
I wouldn’t call myself cranky. Others might. I’m too young to be a curmudgeon, though it is something to aspire to. And perhaps I’m offering a Hot Take on a topic that is neither hot, nor requires a take (that is truly awful writing, my apologies. I’m new to English). But one must wonder, why are there so many lists on the internet? There are so many, that there is a term dedicated to them. “Listicles” are everywhere, and refer to a piece of writing or content that is presented wholly or partly in the form of a list.
Here are some Listicles that I’ve seen today…and I’ll not be mocked by you, Katy Perry!
- Easy 7 Step Formula for Social Media Success – I like to read articles like this one to improve my knowledge in our field. I also like to read anything that implies that success is easy, if only for the opportunity to openly disparage the article I’m reading both at home and at work. Some of the advice in this article is easy, none of it guarantees success in any way.
- 10+ Animals That Look Like They’re About To Drop The Hottest Albums Of The Year – in all honesty, they sucked me in with this one. Not only have I clicked on it multiple times, but I’ve shared it everywhere. I’m partial to #6, but I really like Manny the Selfie Cat.
- 50+ Actors you Forgot Were In Comic Book Movies – Ranker gets extra points from me because they keep the list to one page, and it’s interactive. The second I see a Listicle Slideshow, I’m out!
- 8 Tips For Writing A Listicle That Will Get Published – I know what you’re thinking. Man, Michael really likes to get meta.
So, who’s at fault for these things?
Sometimes listicles are also referred to as “Clickbait.” Clickbait generally has no point, you’re not persuaded, you probably aren’t entertained, and if you’re trying to see what Honey Boo Boo’s mom looks like today, you’ll have to click through 43 different slides to get to the picture…if it exists. Really, Clickbait is there to flood you with the ads that surround the miniscule amount of information.
Back to my question though. Who is to blame? Buzzfeed. Buzzfeed is to blame. They may not have pioneered the Listicle/Clickbait world, but they really brought it to the masses. And now you can find Listicles about how Buzzfeed is just, The Worst.
We’re also to blame, it’s true. I’m an easy mark for some of these lists, and I’ll go down a ridiculous rabbit hole when I see Nine Reasons Listicles Fit our Anxious Times on the Forbes site.
Is there an upside?
YES! Look, we know the truth, our attention spans are not what they used to be. Listicles play to this change. It’s fast, easy content. We consume it easily on our mobile devices. Some of them are brilliant…go back up and click on the animals about to drop hot albums, some aren’t. And the nice thing is that the people that write them try to finish strong, with a funny point.
But I won’t pander to you like that.