Grocery lists, to-do lists, packing lists, lists of book recommendations. I live my life by lists. But some lists I could definitely live without, including most of those that pop up on my Twitter and Facebook feeds.
A few that I’ve spotted in the last 24 hours…
“33 Impossibly Cute Products You Need For Your Desk”
“21 Things People Born In The Early 80s Are Currently Experiencing”
“6 Rules To Live By For Those Who Live With Passion”
“The 40 Greatest Dolly Parton Quotes Of All Time”
“84 Things That Aren’t On An Everything Bagel”
When I see a list, I usually think “Obviously clickbait. Couldn’t they be more creative?” And then I click on it.
It’s part of our nature to click on lists. Lists present a lot of information in a quick, digestible way. Otherwise, where would we find cuddly kitten videos, the most moisturizing lip pencils, the secrets of Zuckerberg, and tips for slaying your next workout?
For what it’s worth, according to BuzzFeed, not all online lists are listicles. A listicle is a seemingly random assortment of objects, such as 11 songs for summer or 15 whisky cocktails. Lists that aren’t listicles tend to have more of a “narrative”—they tell a story or achieve a goal.
Content authors are publishing lists of more arbitrary lengths than before. In the past, lists stuck to common lengths, like 10 or 25 items. Now it’s not unusual to find a list of random length. One tool, called Listogram, inventories how many items there are in BuzzFeed lists and displays them in a chart.
(Image Source: Buzzfeed)
Behind 10 and 15, it appears that 11, 12 and 21 are becoming more common. When lists break out of the 5-10-15 pattern, they become more flexible and are more likely to be a storytelling tool.
For example, you could organize a serious news story about Riverfest into a list of the “12 Greatest Moments at RiverFest 2015” without having to reduce the story to 10 moments. The list would deliver the same information as the story but might appeal to a different audience or get more clicks.
Now, in the most logical conclusion I’ve ever written, I created a list for you. It’s not very useful but I had fun making it. Here are 8 Ways to Be a Better Coworker:
Bring baked goods to work for sharing.
Pet the office puppies.
Hold the elevator.
Ask for insight from someone else. A good idea doesn’t care who had it.
Brew the next pot of coffee.
Mark coworkers’ birthdays on your calendar.
Above all else, be kind.