The Culture of Lists

There have been many advancements in the past couple of years that are constantly “ruining society.” For example: reality TV, Black Friday, texting, and, most importantly, Kim Kardashian. However, I believe the worst cultural shift has been the development of our obsession with lists. BuzzFeed is the most notable offender, but I will be fair and acknowledge that even the most reputable news sources (i.e. The New York Times) are guilty of our culture’s need for the “Top 23 Moments Kanye West Made You Wish You Were an Atheist.”

I am very guilty of spreading such lists. Just yesterday, I had no choice but to post “12 Hard Truths About Life As Told By Abby Lee Miller.” I love Dance Moms (another societal faux pas) therefore I had to tell the world on Facebook how great the advice of Abby Lee Miller really is through gifs and sarcastic comments.

People expect articles to be in lists nowadays. We expect information in short, quick bursts with an accompanying picture or cartoon to entertain us so we can move on with our day. Unfortunately I must click on every link posted on Facebook, even the evil BuzzFeed. Maybe it’s my journalism background speaking, but BuzzFeed and similar sites are ruining the imagination of its readers. Just like texting, we are now conditioned not to actually read the facts and interpret the information for ourselves, but we are spoonfed the message. BuzzFeed has mastered its marketing of the site, making its articles “relatable” and therefore meant to be shared. How would I possibly remember the year I was born if I didn’t read “62 Ways You Know You Really Grew Up In the 90s”?

I admit it. If I see an article on Facebook with the title “10 Things To Get Done Before This Holiday Season” and it is not a list, but (God forbid) an actual paragraph, I will immediately close the browser and move on to a more “user-friendly” post.

The thing that makes this list culture a personal vendetta is the way lists are obsessed with Beyonce. After the surprise release of her new visual album last week, I ran across a BuzzFeed list “The 41 Most Unbelievably Flawless And Life-Changing Moments From Beyonce’s New Album.” First of all, you can’t numerically calculate the number of flawless and life-changing Beyonce moments because they’re ALL flawless and life-changing. But, more importantly, this article was written at 3:50 AM–less than four hours after the album’s release. Most people were asleep and unaware Beyonce even released an album at this point. Therefore, instead of watching the videos themselves and making their own opinion based on the production, musicality, and visual editing, by reading a BuzzFeed list, it ruins the chance for a first impression.

I’m not saying the the list is a horrible evil that should be eradicated from our community, but as a lover of reading and writing, it does make me sad that we’ve condensed journalism into something that can be glanced at and forgotten. But now that the end of the year is upon us, we can move on to more important things like, “103 Most Epic Lessons Duck Dynasty Taught Us In 2013.”

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