I loathe a lot of lists, but some only make me feel like I wasted time*, so I averaged those two feelings to get ‘dislike.’ I’d re-calculate to get something closer to the truth, except that my math skills aren’t up to it. Dislike will have to do.
Here’s my list of what I dislike about their lists:
1. I can’t resist them. I can not, so at the same time I’m reading them, I’m simmering at their marketing trickery. Lists are the online version of adorable babies used to advertise – oh, I don’t know. I’m trying to think of a product or service that would never use chubby-cheeked innocence in the service of seducing customers, but I can’t.
I work in a niche of marketing myself (waaaay back in the corner), so I know the list makers know it’s irresistible and although I don’t really think they’re cackling maniacally, they’re at least snickering at how much useless crap they’re floating.
2. Lists work. They actually work. They influence people. Maybe that’s not the lists’ fault, that so many of us don’t need persuasion, don’t even need a pretty good reason. Popularity is enticement enough. But people have been that way – let’s call it susceptible to suggestion – for a long time. Lists don’t just tap into that, they encourage it and the more lists they publish, the more they can feed that appetite.
3. The invisible, subjective aspect. Lists love to claim authority. LOVE to. Maybe if you met the list maker at a party, they’d swear they didn’t mean to. Maybe what they really meant to say was ‘these are what I, personally, based on my peculiar tastes, think are the best whatevers’ but that’s not what happens. Someone compiles a list of the best and that’s it, until the next list.
My family’s from a charming and lovely place that was named to the 10 Prettiest Towns in America list. Of course, we were all happy, pleased, proud, delighted and, indeed, the town is special and wonderful. But one of the TEN prettiest? Ten? In the entire country? I’ve been to three towns this year that are at least as pretty.
4. The ‘so what?’ aspect. The ‘you lured me in and then left me with nothing useful’ habit of lists. There are nine million of those littering the ether. But just this morning, I was sucked into a video of ’11 Facts About Creatives.’ Somehow, ‘facts’ made it seem highly worthwhile. That I watched it is entirely my fault. That it contributed nothing to my life other than little tidbits of information – that’s theirs. Lists, so easy to read or, in this case watch, let everyone go away feeling like they know stuff. Not that they learned stuff. Just that they know it.
5. Lists that detail ‘secret’ things cause me a special and deep resentment. They rob the inexperienced of the real pleasure of earning a discovery and at the very same time, ruined the frickin’ secret. A popular site that covers all the major cities in America published the 10 Best Short Cuts in LA – shortcuts not so much referring to shorter lengths, but the routes that are best for avoiding traffic. That one inspired so much profanity, I don’t think I could even half re-enact my reaction. Asshats will have to cover it.
That’s about it.
*exactly what you might be feeling right now