6 Reasons to Stop Making Lists

There are a number of things that I either do not like or that irk me in this world.

Top of the list: feet. They’re ugly, smelly, rough and overall gross. Have you seen other peoples’ toenails? Nasty. One of my brother’s roommates in college would actually bite his toenails. I mean, I have a terrible habit of biting my fingernails, but toenails? No. Nuh-uh. Nast-eeee.

Second: rolling backpacks. You can’t call it a backpack if you’re using it as a briefcase. It doesn’t work that way! Besides, you’re losing valuable space with the backpack shape too.

Third: lengthy meme/.gif lists. I get it: memes are funny, that’s the point. But seriously, what happened to moderation? When I see people share articles titled “21 Things That No Longer Exist and Will Make You Feel Old” or “63 Cute Animals That Will Make You Squeal,” it touches a nerve. Or several.

Call me whatever you will, but here’s my counter list of why we need to stop making lists.

1. It shortens our attention spans. If you’ve got something to say, say it. Don’t make a long list of mostly (or only) pictures with only a handful of “supporting” words. I say supporting in quotes because those words mean nothing when listing memes or showing funny pictures. We can figure it out. These lists, first of all, make me feel stupid that I wasted my time “reading” or browsing through your list. Secondly, I think we’re all capable enough (or I should hope we are) to, I don’t know, read beyond pictures. I get it, memes and gifs are funny, but what if I actually wanted to read something substantial and you wasted 5 minutes of my life. That’s 5 minutes I’ll never get back. In the words of Admiral Ackbar: “It’s a trap!

2. It’s a major scam. Making lists doesn’t mean anything besides the fact that we as readers were tricked into thinking that a list can truly define a topic or potentially hold the solution to all of life’s problems. 8 Reasons Why You Need to Stop Eating Butter: it’s fattening, it’s gross, it’s too delicious, it’s oily, too much butter is bad for your, butter raises your cholesterol, butter is a carb (right?), and people will confuse you for Paula Deen. See how dumb this list is? It’s the catchy title that pulled you in though, right? Why shouldn’t I eat butter? Unless you can convince me that I’ll die from radiation poisoning from eating butter in any form, I’m not going to stop. (Everyone has a love affair with butter. Anyone who says otherwise is lying.)

3. Too many pictures lose my interest.  I like pictures of cute animals as much as the next person, but please please please don’t show me 32 of the Most Adorable Kittens. Too much cute is a bad thing. Or maybe after the sixth picture, I’ve lost interest in kittens. Probably because I’ve seen all six of these pictures in some form or another somewhere else. The Internet has been a while, my friends.

3a. Memes in moderation. If you’re going to show me 93 memes about English majors, you can just stop right now. I don’t need a list of memes. Let me discover them or search for them individually. I know there’s a Tumblr of English major memes, which are funny and sometimes repetitive, but when looking at them individually you get the value of each. Give me a list and I’ll probably get bored. I don’t have time to read all 45 memes on one webpage. And if you’re going to show me a list of memes, you might as well write something. I’m not a 4-year-old learning to pair letters of the alphabet and need an illustration to put two and two together. Thankyouverymuch.

A meme about memes.

A meme about memes. Image from: a Facebook feed.

4. We can’t all be the Thought Catalog or Cosmo. Not even Thought Catalog or Cosmo can keep up with the charade. Thought Catalog’s writers are witty and funny, don’t get me wrong. But how many lists can you come up with until it becomes redundant? And repetitive? How many things can you possibly do in the bedroom until you have to recycle information. I had an October issue and the February issue had similar content; if anything, the list was a more condensed version, but I distinctly remember reading a very similar list. The articles were something along the lines of “14 Things You Can Do to Spice Up the Bedroom” and “50 Things Guys Secretly Want You To Do In Bed.” Like, really?
PS – I really like Thought Catalog, as in actual articles.

5. Arbitrary numbers upset me. I’m one of those people who, when reading lists or anything, would prefer the list to end in 5 or 0. It needs to be divisible by 5: it just makes more sense that way. Or give me 3 main bullet points. Anything more than 10 is too much*, and anything ending in any number other than 5 or 0 is nonsense. “38 Things That No Longer Exist,” “11 Things Your Boyfriend Hates About You,” and “62 People You Can’t Believe Exist” is silly (for a number of reasons, but mainly the quantity). If you have to have so many, break it up into parts. Leave some room for anticipation.
*This can be modified. Sometimes, single sentence lists over 10 are fine. Paragraph lists over 10 is like reading a novel.

6. Lists are not a solution. You will not find the answers to life, find a solution to procrastination or learn how to become more financially stable by reading lists. It takes more than reading a list or two to solve these issues. Maybe, yeah, it’ll help put things into perspective, but putting them into motion are all on you. And in this day and age, everyone is looking for instant gratification. You won’t find that in lists.

There you go. The 6 reasons why we need to reconsider making lists. But, you know what? People like lists. I, admittedly, sometimes like lists. (Heck, I’ve even written a list or two on this blog. You can even expect a few lists before the end of the year). We’ve come to a point where all people want is to browse quickly, and lists are clearly the fastest way. But there’s nothing really unique or new that’s said in lists except the person who’s writing it and maybe how they’re presenting their ideas.

Sometimes I just want to read posts rather than sift through an arbitrarily long list of images! Is that too much to ask?


Anybody else feel similarly about lists or similar user-created content?

3 thoughts on “6 Reasons to Stop Making Lists

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