Six Reasons People Love Lists, on the Internet at least.

One of of the most popular blogging formats these days is to write a list. It’s even earned a clever name, the listicle. Check back later for my list of reasons that word’s similarity to “testicle” bothers me.

Anyway, people like lists.  Here’s why:

  1. People don’t read blogs, but lists seem finite enough: Unless you’re writing for The Huffington Post or Gawker, it’s likely as a blogger you’ll have a small following of readers. That following will likely not read all of your posts, and will be even less likely to comment. Reading a blog post takes time and effort and concentration. Modern people don’t have what it takes for that crap. We’re too distractible. Hell, I got distracted writing this. Lists come with a feeling of “finite-ness”. 
  2. You can easily skim through a list article (listicle). As I already said above, I like chocolate. Giving someone a list allows a reader to read the first line and choose whether to dive into your dissertation or quickly move to the next list item. If they already 100% agree or disagree with your point, or if your article is one of nine open browser windows and they’re listening to a podcast while making a grocery list, they’re going to skip the part where you think up the perfect alternate word for clever (sagacious), but at least they’ve clicked on your article, right? And as I said before, we all love chocolate.
  3. eatpoopThere’s a preconceived expectation with a list article (testicle listicle). Once again we’ll go back to the lazy and distractible nature of people. Think of reading blogs in comparison to reading a newspaper; what are the first things people go to in a newspaper? Comics, horoscope, sports page (lists). Choosing to read the meatier articles is a bigger commitment. Only certain people read the whole paper. Comparing all this to books… yeah, nobody reads books anymore except freaks. Are you one of those? Yeah, whatever… you probably know how to drive a stick shift and use a paper map. Nerd.
  4. Lazy brains love the preorganized thoughts. No more mentally digging through paragraphs of text to discern the points being made. Lists demand a clear statement for each point. This keeps the writer from burying meanings between the lines or under a long stream of keyboard diarrhea. Our lazy brains kinda work in list fashion anyway, so the interface works better in a processing sense.
  5. Lists sound like researched authority. This can be a good thing or a bad thing.  So many people take what they read on the internet as fact, without doing any critical thinking, as it is. Lists make it easier to believe stuff like.
  6. There’s a sense of accomplishment when you’re done. Enjoy it, you lazy bastard. You earned it… unless of course you just skimmed the topics._________________

Image credit: carlodapino / 123RF Stock Photo


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