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.