Top Ten Things You Have Always Wondered About Listicles

…But did not know whom to ask. 

1. Do listicles present content in a short and snappy format? 

Snappy, yes. Easy to digest, yes. Fun, yes. Short? Not always. A listicle could be like this one, listing the top ten, which is not so time consuming or it could be ’99 ways your pet needs attention’. It does take a little longer to read 99 bulleted points. 

2. Are listicles… Umm… what is the word… distracting

The modern living is characterized by distractions in the form of multitasking and aimless surfing on the Internet. But listicles are feel good and fun and take into account that the average reader’s attention span is in seconds (How many? When? That is the topic of another listicle). The listicle has evolved as a direct result of these tendencies. 

3. Does the listicle sacrifice good content for more eyeballs? 

Not really. Just because it is capsulated information does not mean it can be any less effective than compelling arguements and a structured approach to the topic on hand. 

4. Is the listicle an art form

To answer this, let us ask ourselves some more telling questions. Is the listicle a form of short art? Is it at par with a haiku? Is it like a limerick with a decided structure and a lot of punch? Is it like a cartoon in the newspaper, tellingly commenting on the social change and the political milieu? Is it like a doodle? Isn’t a listicle akin to finding a gem from the rubble? 

5. What makes a listicle easy to read

The listicle needs to be succint. It must have a structure. And yes, it has a linear structure. It takes a mass of information and breaks it down into pieces. It presents those pieces, often with no regard to the increasing or decreasing significance of material presented. 

6. Can a listicle be akin to snacking

Yes, of course. It may not be the main meal and not as nutritious but important and tasty and fun. 

7. Do the listicles have a genre

The listicles are very versatile. They can be a take on the important with the downright silly; must know facts with totally irrelevant ones. 

8. Can a listicle be just words

It is perfectly alright to put together a list of the funniest cartoons or gifs. The only thing that matters is a central theme. 

9. Are the list posts better than the Why posts and the How to posts and videos? 

If you are targeting word nerds and information freaks and bored readers, then yes! 

10. Do the listicles offer extraneous information? 

As a rule, they should not but there are times when you want the listicle to list the top ten reasons for something and you can only come up with nine. Like now, like this one. 

Please add to the list to tell us what ways a listicle is attractive to you. Are there any listicles that you would want to read or write? 

This is the second in the series of ‘Friday Listicles‘, a weekly feature that professes our love for anything that is presented in a numbered or bulleted form, paving the way for a happy weekend. 

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7 Reasons Why We Love Listicles

Why is it that making lists is simply irresistible to us? From having post-its stuck to all sorts of surfaces to having scraps of paper scattered around with little reminders to having lengthy do-its that are made first thing in the morning, we have come a long way. It used to be personal; rummaging around for the lists in the recesses of our handbags or neatly folded away in our wallets. The obsession is now public; from the insufferably loud support for the BuJos… the Bullet Journals that are the superpowers when it comes to organising our thoughts, activities and destinies to the way journalism and content on the web is now arranged for consumption. 

The Internet is awash with all sorts of lists, a veritable cornucopia of the ways we love this or dislike that and the ultimate listings of the books we cannot miss and the sound tracks we ought to have on our playlists. These lists have spawned a new way of journalism, called the listicle. A listicle is the combination of the words ‘list’ and ‘article’ and is an article that is presented in the form of a bulleted or numbered list. 

Are these listicles popular? Very! Here are the reasons that find resonance with so many around the globe. 

1. Bite sized information – In today’s information overload, anything that can be read quickly, understood without much effort and digested immediately looks attractive. The listicles score high on all these counts. Not only does the title get to the point immediately but the content of the listicle is concise. There is no beating-about-the-bush, no preamble, no middle and no ending. All that the listicle wants to tell you is right there, at a glance. 

2. The Certainity Factor – The reader knows exactly what she is getting into. The listicle promises and delivers. You know what the article is about and you know how long it is going to be. At a cursory glance, you know that “12 ways to improve your Communication with your colleagues” is going to take a lot lesser time than “99 ways to train your pet”.

3. Easy Peasy – The ease is in the reading and the writing. No more extra checks for grammar and worrying about words being in context. The prose is not convoluted and there are facts, facts and possibly some more funny facts (assumptions) in the listicle. 

4. The Illusion of Completeness – after reading “78 Greatest Music Tracks of All Time ” there is no way a reader is going to read another article to see if she missed something. There is something about the listicles that make everything sound so definitive. 

5. Ticking them Off – As every self respecting List Lover would tell you, half the pleasure of list making is in the ticking off of the items ; the listicle readers can justifiably tick the ones they have read and experienced. And if they are reading of something that they know nothing about because they were led to the listicle by their morbid curiosity, then the pleasure is in mentally ticking off the points that they are reading. 

6. Stress Relief – The sky rocketing stress levels means that you need something to calm those swirling and murky thoughts in your mind. Putting down things in staccatto helps in writing out everything that is bothersome or has been around for too long to ignore now. Put down that stress on the paper or the screen and put away seeing the shrink. That is possibly what the writers of those listicles do when their editors/employers tell them to come up with a definitive and all encompassing article on something like the social etiquette. 

7. Memorisation – Easy memorisation of the organized information is one of the best benign effects reading a listicle brings ( even for the ones that you hate to read).There is no need to categorise information that has been presented in rambling paragraphs, looking for salient points and reducing the need to draw inferences from the data presented. The listicle has done it for you. Of the “19 best LBD styles”, you are bound to remember around 6. 

Now, go gorge on them. 

There are so many ways that we love the listicles. Let us count the ways. Tell me what is it about a list or a listicle that draws you to it. 

This is the first in the series of ‘Friday Listicles‘, a weekly feature that professes our love for anything that is presented in a numbered or bulleted form, paving the way for a happy weekend. 

Thanks 2016… It’s been Weird *

To sum up the year gone by would be to bundle together plenty of contradictory things that happened and to make sense of them. 

It would be like trying to decide whether the totally scary things led to any good, in the tradition of whatever -happens-is-for-the-best or trying to understand that the wonderful, out-of-the-world experiences would have lasting benefits. 

I would have to make sense of all the times I looked over my shoulder, in whether that was to gauge my own mortality or to come to terms with others’. I would have to understand the nature of human fragility, the quirks of fate and the indomitable human spirit as I assessed people’s reactions to the adversities that they go through. 

In looking back, I would be grateful for the knowledge that the Guardian Angels have been looking over me, as they have been all this time, only that I never recognized it to be such. I would be thankful for the people in my life for the constant support and encouragement. 

There were failings of the excrutiating kinds, the ones that made me go omg-how-could-I and then there were the jump-in-the-air moments that made me yell eureka. 

Writing wise, I found my feet. I could write more and in different ways and stepped out of the comfort zone. I could write more on the blog and elsewhere and attempted to write a book length manuscript. I could finally get back to doing what I have loved well. 

In many other ways and at different times, I found equanimity. The swings of fate and the ups and the downs of life did make for a roller coaster ride but I was able to bounce back quicker and get on with the business of life. 

There are a range of emotions in every heart and I could be a part of that range with many people and in many ways. It was a year of reaching out, of reconciliation and of creating new bonds. 

At the beginning of the year, I moved to a new place to live. I was most reluctant to do so but it turned out to be the biggest blessing I have had. In retrospect, I could make a difference to someone’s life. It also prepared me for the inevitability of certain things in life. 

It has also been the year when I rediscovered many of the passions that I had let go of over the years because of busyness or because I had convinced myself that I had outgrown those interests. I got to know how wrong I had been. 

It has also been the year of people, the ones I had all along and the ones I pulled out from the cobwebs of the past. It has been good to rekindle the connections and sometimes disconcerting to realize how people who have been together for a long time can also grow apart. 

In all, it has been a mix as life always is and as all years are. But the experience has been good and here is looking forward to the next weird year. 

*The post title is the tagline from Spotify’s new outdoor global ad campaign. 

Small Stones 

mild breeze 

the rain of tiny leaves 

from the tree 
​What are small stones?

A small stone is a short piece of writing (any style) that precisely captures a fully-engaged moment for you. The process of discovering small stones is as significant as the finished creation. Searching for small stones encourages you to keep your senses on the “alive and alert” status. Involve yourself with a new set of eyes, ears, nose, mouth, fingers, feelings and mind. This is Mindful Writing at its best. 

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Places that we inhabit 

Image courtsey: jimleggitt.typepad.com

My life has been divided by ‘places‘. There are stages or phases in our lives. And we measure life in terms of age. I do all this; only I do it as the places I have lived at, the places I have loved and the places that have challenged me to grow. 
Each place has a different memory. My earliest memory is of the sea, the sand in my toes and my hair; the brittleness of the wind and the shaded yet hot verandah of the house we lived in. 

The other childhood home in another city reminds me of the butterflies chased in the hot noons when the adults were taking a siesta. I remember the cool baths by the tap and plastic pouches that doubled as water carriers. 

The longest I have lived at a place has been the small town and the big house of my adolescence. The house was rambling and it allowed my imagination to wander in the huge grounds and the lawns, behind the trees and the bushes, in the sand pits and the annexe that was my personal paradise. 

Moving to a new town with a completely different character was disorienting after the lyrical paradise and it helped me find my wings. The red letterbox was the tenuous link that connected me to my friends and the shower of letters and cards in the driveway brought much joy as I ran from the terrace down the stairs in sheer delight. 

As I grew older, the places were painted in the colours of my emotions. I struggled for peer acceptance and for the cool quotient. I plodded along, trying to do better in everything and failing miserably. I picked myself up and found new horizons. I found people and I lost them and in the process lost many bits of my own self. Years later, I would be here again and the struggles would be different and the disappointments hardening into something unpalatable. 

There are times and places in life that come around to challenge and teach and help you stretch yourself. Then, there are places that are a balm to the soul. Life may be difficult and life may be giving you lemons but for every trouble, there is an antidote. These are the places that bouy the spirit, that help you take the next step and the next till you are striding away at your own pace. 

I have been fortunate to find many such places that healed me and gave me new hope.

I  have also come back to these places years later, to visit and to muse on them. I have come back to them so as to spend longer periods, making my home there once again. But, the coming again seems awkward and the connection seems lost. The impressions of the places in the mind seem false, garishly colored as if by a child with a vivid imagination. I take a long time to rekindle the familiarity and the love. 

Yet, the places I have been to have defined me and in bits and pieces made me what I am. Through a coming together of the elements of space, weather and people, the places I have lived at have shaped me.