Seven Reasons I Hate Listicles

Fellow writers, can we talk?

But first, if there are any kids nearby you may want to cover their eyes or ask them to leave the room because there will be foul language in this post.

Is the coast clear? Okay good.

Now I don’t want to come across as a literary snob, but I fucking hate Listicles! You know, those darn articles written in the form of a list?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I just hate them!

I have this one writing professor who swears by them. She can’t get through a single class without telling us, Everybody loves Listicles, Editors love Listicles, or Readers love Listicles.

Since she makes a pretty good living with them in her day job, I have to quietly sit there and shake my head while she extolls the virtues of these things, which for me are the literary equivalent of a loose bowel movement. But who am I to argue? After all, she’s the professional.

Maybe I’m just a grumpy middle-aged guy who can’t get with the times, but I can’t understand how or why absorbing information in standard sentence form suddenly became so difficult.

However, according to the experts (whoever they are), the way today’s human brain is wired apparently we all have the attention spans of a squirrel on amphetamines.

Because of this, it seems that the only way we can digest data is in bite-sized morsels, such as bullet points or numbered lists – hence the enormous popularity of the Listicle.

Aside from the fact that I don’t buy this premise, what really drives me mad is that no matter where you go, there is no escaping this scourge on the literary landscape. Whether it’s, Twelve Reasons to Love New York, Six Ways to Ask Your Boss for a Raise, or Seventeen Signs Your Grandmother Might Secretly be a Loan Shark, like McDonalds, Starbucks, and Walmart, Listicles are everywhere!

Now before you start reaching for your wallet to send a contribution for my much-needed therapy, let me assure you that I’ll be fine. I have already reached the acceptance stage, and like it or not, I know that Listicles are here to stay.

With this in mind, here’s my Listicle on the Seven Reasons I Hate Listicles:

1. The Name

Listicle – It sounds a lot like Popsicle and that’s just false advertising now isn’t?

Whenever I see the word Listicle I think of that cool, sweet, tasty summer treat from childhood. But Listicles are nothing like Popsicles; they’re usually just bland and predictable. In fact it’s a good thing they’re free because most times I’d be asking for my money back.

2. They’re never in order

It might just be my O.C.D. kicking in, but prioritizing your lists in ascending or descending order only takes a few minutes longer and can add a sense of authoritative order for your reader.

And since the purpose of online Listicles is engagement, you may reap the added benefit of engaging in more ridiculous arguments interesting conversations with readers who disagree with your order.

Note: Keep a lawyer on retainer – you may need a quick restraining order for those who really disagree!

 3. They’re rarely entertaining

I see very few writers using Listicles for what they’re actually best suited for, which is Humor. Everyone is so obsessed with trying to sound insider hip, trendy, or topical, that we’ve all forgotten funny.

Funny isn’t that hard folks. Here’s an example I just whipped up while writing this sentence:

Four Reasons Why Mating With a Bonobo is a Bad Idea

4. He’ll rip off your face.

3. He’ll rip off your face!

2. The ungrateful bastard never calls the next day.

1. Hey! Did you hear me? HE’LL RIP OFF YOUR FACE!!!

(And did you notice how I put these in order of importance? Pretty slick eh folks?)

4. Listicles are the fast-food of literature

Not everyone has Pulitzer Prize potential, but isn’t the goal of every writer to at least try to inspire or capture the imagination of our readers?

By their very nature Listicles thumb their noses at this, our prime directive.

So the next time your editor tells you they need another Listicle, ask them if you haven’t lobotomized your readers with drivel long enough, and instead offer them your inspirational feature exposé on the dangers of Human/Bonobo crossbreeding.

Image courtesy of Michael Elliott at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Michael Elliott at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

5. They’re just not informative

I can’t remember the last time I read a Listicle that actually told me something I didn’t already know or couldn’t have figured out for myself. The Five Sexiest Men/Women/Bonobos in Hollywood, really?

Come on People Magazine! Dig a little deeper will ya? Not that I actually care to, but I could’ve figure this one out for myself in less than a minute just from what’s trending on Twitter.

6. They’re so predictable

Just like number 5, this one is a sure sign that you’re just phoning it in. I’m sorry Cosmo but, Five Signs Your Man is Cheating?

Hmmm, well let’s see; he works late a lot, comes home smelling of strange soap or perfume, acts evasive, looks for excuses to leave the house at strange hours, and while making love lately he has taken to calling you Bob even though your name is Penelope.

Did I nail it? Yeah, thought so.

If you really think you’re giving the world anything it needs with stuff like this, you should read my next post. It will be a Listicle of course: Six Reasons I Think You’re Insane.

7.

There is no number seven. I got distracted by a YouTube video with a cute puppy in it and decided to pack it in at six. Fuck it, I’m bored anyway. Maybe we should limit all Listicles to five items because seven just seems too long for my short attention sp…Oh look, another puppy! 🙂 🙂 ❤ ❤

 

Don’t like it? Well then write your own damn Listicle!

Author’s note: No Bonobos were harmed during the production of this Listicle!

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About Norm 2.0

World’s youngest grumpy old man & heart failure wonder boy. Interests: writing, woodworking, photography, travel, tennis, wine, and I know a bit about power tools.
This entry was posted in Humor, Opinions and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Seven Reasons I Hate Listicles

  1. Pingback: Posts I loved this week | Taylor Grace

  2. So, let’s see if I have it right with this new term…
    1. Listicle – noun, a list of the obvious
    2. Listicating – verb , the act of making a list of the obvious
    3. Listicable – adjective, qualities of obvious facts

    Live the term even though it’s the first time I’ve heard it …yes I live under a huge rock haha

    Liked by 1 person

  3. sourgirlohio says:

    I’ve never done a listicle, and now I probably won’t:)

    But I do read them. They’re fine as long as the information is original, there’s just no need to read everyone’s Top Ten Favorite anything when five of the answers are always the same.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m totally regretting my post today.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. K. Renae P. says:

    Ha! I love reading lists on the internet (in print not so much). I love them for some of the reasons you don’t. Different strokes I guess. That’s cool. Why do I love lists? Great question.

    1. List are fun, easy reads.
    2. They are often funny. Case in point: this post.
    3. three
    4. A properly written list article can be informative.
    5. Most of my top blog posts are lists or list-ish.
    6. Lists can brake up text heavy articles. It makes it easier for me to scan.
    7. I never heard of listicle. Sounds dirty. I love.

    Like

    • Norm 2.0 says:

      Yeah, it’s just my grumpy ole man tendencies coming out again.
      Listicles work, people like them and read them. I should write them more often.
      If I think of any more dirty sounding words I’ll let you know 😉
      Thanks for stopping in K. Renae, it’s nice to meet you.

      Like

  6. Gene'O says:

    Heh. Indeed. You may hate them, but the Internet freakin’ loves them.

    I can’t write true listicles. When I do listy-posts, I nearly always end up with a paragraph for each item on the list, and I try to put mine at least in a pseudo-order with the best item at the top. So I do feel your pain. The lists are one of those blogging tricks I couldn’t do without, though. They’re just so easy, and people read them.

    Like

  7. Thank you for the many chuckles I had reading this. I also learned the word listicle, and I plan to never use it. From my point of view, you could replace the word listicle with Facebook/Twitter and your post could have been written by me. Social media is here to stay. I accept it and have accounts. I just don’t get why it is now the only form of communication. Oh well, guess my age is showing again. 🙂 Happy Thanksgiving and your family should give you a pat on the back.

    Like

    • Norm 2.0 says:

      Thanks Judy – I’m glad you had a few laughs.
      Sometimes I get so caught up in it that I feel the need to unplug completely for a few days to reconnect and pay more attention to my in-person friends and loved ones.
      Though I’m very grateful for all of the wonderful people I’ve met on here and on Twitter, I too feel my age in that it just doesn’t feel as real as making a live human connection.
      But then again every once in a while, an online friend turns into a real-life friend as well. And of course it’s a great way to meet and connect with people from all over the world where often, live contact is just not possible.
      Let’s face it, social media certainly isn’t going anywhere so I guess we just need to evolve and learn how to use it judiciously.
      So far, taking an occasional break seems to do the trick for me.

      Like

  8. Norm 2.0 says:

    Reblogged this on Miscellaneous Musings of a Middle-Aged Mind and commented:

    Monday is our Thanksgiving Holiday here in Canada.
    On the Thanksgiving weekend it has been my tradition to totally unplug from social media and the electronic world as a way of appreciating family, friends, and all of wonderful people in my day-to-day life.
    To make a long story short (and not so boring!), aside from already scheduled posts, I will be AWOL until next week.
    With that in mind I leave you with this re-post of one of my personal favorites from earlier this year:

    Like

  9. 1. First time I’ve seen the word
    2. I like it (if not the phenomenon)
    3. Can’t wait to casually include ‘listicle’ in a conversation

    Like

    • Norm 2.0 says:

      Hello Fredrik, thanks for visiting. Yes I’m realising I should have explained the origins of the word which is a combination of Article and List, somewhere in the beginning of the piece. It is a catchy sounding word, use it to amaze and impress your friends 😉

      Like

  10. Jean says:

    Five Reasons I Liked This Post:
    1. I had never heard the word listicle before.
    2. Every now and then I try a listicle. They don’t get any more views than my better-written posts.
    3. I do get suckered in by those things, but you’re right. They never tell me anything I don’t already know. Why, then, do they sucker me in?
    4. Number 7 was my favorite.
    5. You did nail it.

    Like

    • Norm 2.0 says:

      Thanks for your comments Jean! I’m not sure why, but we all get suckered in from time to time don’t we? Perhaps just as water will always find the easiest path downhill, the human brain will always gravitate towards the easiest info to process first…
      The fact that you commented with a listicle of your own is much appreciated – I was hoping someone would 🙂

      Like

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