I HATE LISTICLES.
In my opinion, they are the catalyst for this current downturn of society, now that the mani cam has been abolished from award show red carpets. Perhaps it’s because I’m a freelance writer and listicles are the majority of the assignments I’m offered on a weekly basis, but I happen to be highly sensitive to how saturated the web is with them and the fact that listicles are what people are consistently clicking on the internet. Every single piece of content that goes live now needs to be “shareable” and have the potential to “go viral” — God forbid it be an actual article makes the reader actually think.
Why so serious? It’s not that content always has to be serious, per se, but the majority of listicles out there aid and abed the self-indulgent, self-aggrandizing movement that’s currently happening in American culture. Not only do we have selfies, but we have a listicle about why it’s okay for us to take as many selfies as we want. I’m not sure if this phenomenon is the chicken or the egg, but in this case it doesn’t matter — they’re both shitty.
The listicle trend has reached its peak, mostly in part to a website-who-shall-not-be-named but rhymes with MuzzMeed, and it needs to be halted — or, at the very least, curbed. I just don’t know how much longer I can log onto the internet and be inundated by website after website or post after post glorifying this kind of so-called journalism.
Below are a list of reasons why I HATE listicles and I ask that if you agree, you join my call to action. Yes, the irony is not lost on me that I’m writing a listicle about why I hate listicles, but this is how my editor asked me to format my rant (love you, Dariush!).
Listicles give people license to act like assholes.
Do you want someone to give you permission to do whatever the hell you want? You will most likely be able to find a listicle to support you and whatever your thesis regarding a particular issue may be. A listicle can help you rationalize almost any behavior, whether it’s in regards to sex, dating, hygiene, friendships, or even how you like to slice your sandwiches. Slicing your sandwich on a diagonal angle indicates that you like order and want to ensure that each piece is symmetrical, therefore you are probably a fair and compassionate person. No! That’s not true. I just made that up — at least, I hope I didn’t subconsciously plagiarize that – but that is exactly what these listicles are like. Want to break up with your girlfriend over text but all of your friends say no? Here’s why it’s okay and you don’t have to have the decency of a normal human being. Because listicles are so popular and so many are commissioned everyday, you can find one to support whatever you want and therefor people think it’s okay to behave however they want because they have a listicle to support their decisions.
They encourage shallow behavior.
Do we really need a list of reasons why wearing only vintage clothing somehow indicates boldness or how the act of wearing only red lipstick personifies fearlessness? First off, get over yourselves. IT’S F-ING CLOTHES AND LIPSTICK. Yeah, clothes are fun — but unless you’re Rachel Zoe, you do not need to be so consumed with them on a daily basis. How bored are we as a society that with all of the political and social issues going on in this country and all over the world, we still give this kind of vapid verbal-vomit so much attention? I have seen very few listicles about why people should donate their time or money to charity, or how humankind can try to be more kind and understanding towards one another.
You need to take the author into account.
Rarely anyone who writes these listicles (myself included) is someone who is qualified or whom you should be taking advice from on any particular topic. I haven’t seen many listicles done by experts in any field. Some may be fun, but before you turn to a listicle for any real advice or help with making a major life decision, make sure you take the author’s opinions with a grain of salt and a shot of tequila.
They rarely (if ever) back up their statements with facts.
Listicles don’t have bibliographies at the end. Each item is presented as a fact — ,when in most cases, it’s the author’s (unqualified) opinion. Because it’s so short, the author doesn’t go into a two-page detailed psychological and emotional explanation complete with statistics about why they arrived at the conclusion that sleeping with one’s ex can be a healthy and therapeutic way to move on from said ex. No. At most we get three or four sentences that we’re probably reading because they validate whatever opinion the reader had to begin with.
Can we really not be bothered to read whole articles anymore?
With listicles running rampant, it seems like we as a people are even more reluctant to actually read anything anymore. Listicles, with their efficient little bullet points, are the new preferred way to read and digest information. Now, reading an entire Cosmopolitan article on how to find your G-spot is lengthy and cumbersome; forget about an actual book. (By the way, if you can’t even read a Cosmo article, let me know in the comments so I can start including you in my prayers.) With reading already being left in the dust thanks to smart phones and streaming services, the listicle helps ensures that peoples who were at least inclined to read an entire article five years ago won’t have to.
That’s it. That’s my tirade. Even though I realize that this article will not be the first step in eradicating listicles from pop culture, I hope it gets you thinking about them, and I hope it maybe even gets you feeling a little bit disgusted. Then again, take your author and her POV into consideration.