Writing Memoir

Why I Fear List Posts

After we watched an episode of The Twilight Zone, my friend turned to me and said, “Television used to be quite smart. What happened?”

I dunno, I said as I scratched my butt.

Just kidding. We actually had a discussion surrounding this idea of dumbed down American television. I think TV shows have become quite sophisticated but are they necessarily smarter? Or are they evolving in a completely different direction?

Blogging and writing on the web has moved towards quick, easy to absorb, little bites of information. Generally speaking, my list posts are my more popular posts on my expat blog. And this is no coincidence, lists post have become ubiquitous, and the over-utilized tool of bloggers.

But why fear something that gets you readers? Why fear something so common and well, harmless?

One.
Lists post create an easy to skim and scan format. And in this Digital Age, skimming is acceptable and probably even necessary if you want to get anything done. But when we skim, we miss fine writing and sometimes even finer points.

Two.
I fear my writing will take a nasty punch to the stomach. Lists give you automatic transitions, so that you never have to write or find a transitional word ever again. Really? Well, maybe. But do I want my writing (aka my thinking) to be reduced to lists?

Three.
They’re easy. Yeah, baby. List posts are REAL easy to do, if you know what I mean. (*wink, wink, nudge, nudge*) And folks always say not to “give it up” so easily. Wait a minute…

Four.
Whenever you create a list post, you have an insta-title. You don’t have to work anymore! Woo-hoo! More easiness! Your days of trying to figure out a clever succinct eye catching going viral title are over my friends! So far, I have “4 Reasons to Fear Lists Posts” but we know that 4 is an unacceptable number, for some reason…so I have to keep going.

Five.
The thing about stretching numbers, creating a viable and acceptable number for a list post is, you often times end up with an EH. You know, you read “10 Reasons Why Your Breath Stinks” or “10 Household Items You Can Use to Scratch Your Back” and the 8th and 9th ones are EH. Inevitably. Indubitably.

Six.
I think when something gets this popular (hello Faceybook), you have to put down the binoculars and take a look around, maybe blink a bit too. Question reality, so to speak, or in this case, popularity.
1.    Popular does not necessarily equate to superiority/good/quality.
2.    Popular kids were usually a-holes (just sayin’).
3.    Popular usually appeals to everybody (= lowest common denominator).
4.    Popularity breeds more popularity (see above).
5.    One day you are popular and the next day you are not (See bloggers watching their blog stats, and has-been celebrities). Yeah, depressing.

Seven.
List posts are addictive. And that can’t be good, right?

FB like.Whaddya think? Do you like list posts? Have lists posts gone too far? Are they out of control?

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8 thoughts on “Why I Fear List Posts

  1. The irony being that this is actually a GOOD list post, which reminds me that a “list post” is a lot like an outline. My favorite part was the thing about not having to come up with a title. Funny. Anyway, I think you’re onto something about a problem with list posts, similar to PowerPoint presentations. Something to do with keeping everything on a surface level. It’s just a list. The pieces are related laterally. They are automatically roughly equivalent. As you mentioned, having transitions, a conclusion, development, and a title that doesn’t just announce a list requires more skill and imagination at writing. But it also requires a less lazy audience, just wanting to skim for tidbits. Writing that can actually draw one is these days is rare, but I’m usually happy for the mental sustenance when it happens.

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    1. Thanks! I like my list within a list 😀

      Yeah, many blogging experts talk about the importance of penning a list post because they work so well. And as I mentioned, I’ve tried it and they work.

      I just don’t want to get lazy in my writing. I don’t want my writing to get bad because I’m depending on a list. I have sat down to write and a list pops up between my ears and I think, EGATS.

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      1. I prefer the spelling, “Igadz”. Lists work well, you say. So do McDonald’s hamburgers. I think their overuse and misuse is the problem. Sure, I’ve looked at many a list of things like, “The 10 best movies you’ve never seen”, because I just want some titles to start downloading. But then everything ends up being a list. Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment” could be re-written as “10 Reasons to Not Kill Your Neighbor”, and adorned with Goggled images. Kafka’s “Metamorphosis” could be summed up in, “3 reasons it sucks to be a roach”… Something’s gone missing.

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      2. 555+ Now that was funny. Thanks for my morning laugh…yeah, good point. We’re moving in that direction. A twist on cliff notes.

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    1. Thanks Victoria. Are list posts a fad? We seem to like our lists, our reading and movies lists, and To-Do lists and reading other people’s lists…

      I feel overwhelmed with information. I have so many tabs opened right now and I want to read them all. But I also want to go to the grocer and do other stuff. List posts seem to be our answer to our busy world and trying to gobble it all down so we can move on to the next thing.

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      1. I agree with you. Human life has never been as chaotic (excluding warzones) as it is day to day for all of us now. Lists are one of our few, simple ways to keep things together and make sure everything gets done. I’m a big fan of to-do lists 🙂

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