You’ve all seen them. You’ve all clicked on them. No use being coy, because I know it’s true – you clicked on this one, didn’t you?
But I hate the things. I mean, list articles may be the most popular type of online article, but is this really a recommendation? In a world where the Kardashians are America’s number one family (soon to be supplanted by the Trumps), surely we can’t rely on sheer popularity as an indicator of worth.
Here’s why I hate listicles:
- They normalise sub-literate writing. Please, people, write ‘five’ and not ‘5’. That’s the literate thing to do. (But if you’re writing ‘six thousand and twenty-three’, please write ‘6023’) Thank you.
- They promise so much, yet deliver so little. That’s because they’re usually written by people who don’t really know what they’re talking about. You can compile a 500-word listicle in about fifteen minutes from factoids you find on the internet. About 80% of said factoids will have no merit whatsoever. Go on, ask me how I know.
- They make us dangerously credulous. Because somehow, simply by virtue of being there in print, as it were, these dubious factoids gain legitimacy.
- They’re all over the flippin’ place. And it makes the internet a dull, dull thing. But they’re only ubiquitous because you keep clicking on them. We live in an era where you can get decent journalism for free on sites like The Guardian. Click on that instead!
- They get us used to consuming ‘content’ instead of participating in meaningful discourse. You’re not a fool (although you’re temporarily behaving like one by clicking on so many listicles). You deserve better, my friend.
- They’re degrading your working memory. That means every listicle you read is making you that little bit more stupid. Be very afraid, because once you cross the Rubicon of stupidity you won’t be able to cope with anything more taxing than brainless natter about superfoods and celebrities who’ve become fat. You have been warned.
Am I wrong to hate listicles so much? When did you last see a good one?
Oh yeah, and you can, like hire me if you want me to write some listicles for you.
Lynn is the founder and quality-maven-in-chief of Lexis Writing, a collective of expert writers creating high quality content and copy for businesses in the UK and beyond.