I am sticking this very post on to one of my own favourite linkies from the parenting/lifestyle niche – aptly entitled ‘The List’ – so I’m sure a few readers may also be fascinated by this phenomenon!
Personally I like making lists as I’m sure do many people – a to-do list provides a written reference to a set of (hopefully!) attainable goals and gives you some accountability and structure in how you organise your time.
Bucket lists are everywhere – I’ve written on this subject before, and again – whether they be attainable or bordering on ‘wildest dream’ territory, it is a nice neat way of organising your thoughts and giving yourself some kind of accountability for a lifetime of achievements and happiness.
But what of the “Five stages of…” or “Ten things to do…” or “Seven things holding you back…” type posts and stories which seem, to me, to be becoming more and more prevalent. I like them, no doubt I will write one myself at some point, and yet, at the same time, it sometimes irritates me to see yet another one pop up – like lazy journalism or jumping on a runaway bandwagon.
I read a New Yorker article on this very subject which points out that this is a very modern phenomenon and puts it in perspective by sharing some re-packaged historic news stories in list format, essentially for comic effect, e.g. “Nine Nazi atrocities that will make you question your faith in humanity!” There is something very jarring about that for sure.
That article goes on to get quite in depth about the scientific reason why our brains prefer things broken down into lists but one of the essential reasons which stood out for me was the idea of a list in some way combating information overload. I wrote my Masters dissertation on the subject of information overload so this really resonated and it makes so much more sense as to why this phenomenon is so distinctly 21st century.
Lists provide information in bite-sized chunks. In a world where you don’t pop down to the local shop and choose between a broadsheet or a tabloid and get the rest of your worldly knowledge from a library book or the Six O’Clock news on the BBC, but instead jump onto an Information Superhighway, we all need to rely on a few shortcuts. Maybe it is ‘News Lite’ or information ‘dumbed down’ but sometimes that really is the best way for us to digest the myriad of data we find ourselves wading through.
Now I don’t really know where else I’m going with this post so here’s a list of my favourite lists:
- Buzzfeed’s “33 most beautiful abandoned places in the world”
- Lifehack’s “10 things everyone needs to know in life“
- My own top ten favourite movies of all time.
- Because we all need a good laugh and there is something genius about the stuff kids come up with: Huffington Post’ s “Funny (but true) answers children have given in exams“
- Because I’m a serial hobbyist and I love at least the idea of learning new things, I think this list with links to resources to help you learn the “Top 10 highly-desired skills you can teach yourself” is great.
Apologies if you get nothing else done today 🙂