In Defense of Listicles: A Listicle

If you don’t know what a listicle is, you don’t spend enough time on the Internet. And, quite frankly, I’m not sure how you found us. But still: a listicle is simply a delightful portmanteau of the words “list” and “article.” Magazine covers hit you with “The 10 Things You’re Already Doing in Bed That We’re Going to Tell You About Anyway” and websites like Cracked have made the listicle their bread and butter for years (“4 Reasons We Need to Start Making Fun of Terrorists,” you say?).

Some people (hereafter referred to as “Captain Bringdown and the Buzzkillers”) look down upon the listicle as being too simplistic; they’re too easy to read and to write. Quick content, cheap clicks, the dumbing down of our society, and all that. But I thought I’d defend my friend the listicle the only way I know how: with a listicle. So, here are the reasons listicles are just fine in my book:

They Are Easy To Read ““ As I’ve so deftly displayed here, listicles are full of little breaks that are marked by subheadings, bullet points, numbers, and if you’re lucky, all three. No sifting through long, complex paragraphs for you! You get to breeze through the intro paragraph and get right to what you came for: the list. It’s also nice to know exactly how many list items you have to read. Like, in a 7-item list, after you pass Item Four you can do a little dance and tell yourself “Wooo! I’m more than halfway there!”

They Cut To The Chase ““ Look, when I’m taking time out of my incredibly taxing day job or my equally taxing blog job to read something, I want to know what the hell I’m reading about, and fast. Listicles don’t bury the lede so much as prance it about onstage like a show pony: THIS IS WHAT THE HELL THIS ARTICLE IS ABOUT. It’s refreshing, really.

They Keep Indulgent Bloggers In Check ““ As an overly self-indulgent blogger myself, I can vouch for the fact that bloggers think they’re hot shit. For some reason, writing even the most trite pop culture article can inspire unwarranted pontification. Listicles seem to keep bloggers on track; they’re forced to get back to the point of their piece and keep the digressions and personal asides to a minimum. (Which reminds me of how the other day I had another one of my delightfully quirky pratfalls”¦but there’s no time for that now!)

They’re realistic ““ Honestly, my hands are going un-wrung and my pearls un-clutched over the proliferation of the listicle. I’m also not terribly worried about the Way People Read On the Internet, which Captain Bringdown and the Buzzkillers think is making us stupider and destroying our attention spans. Having been born without an attention span, I have nothing to lose anyway. But I do think there are still two types of reading that we do online: the kind of long, thought-provoking reading that people did back when they read things on paper, and the quick instant gratification reading that’s become more popular online. I do both. You probably do too. (And, conveniently enough, we publish both here at Persephone!)

So, I guess this is that awkward part where the list is over, you’ve checked out mentally, and I’m trying to come up with a way to wrap this whole thing up. If you’ve learned anything from this, it’s that I’m just as bored as you are, so let’s just awkwardly hug (butts out, of course) and call it a day. Oh, and go listicles!

Photo: Getty

8 thoughts on “In Defense of Listicles: A Listicle”

Leave a Reply