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4 Reasons Why Thought Catalog Writers Need to Stop Listing Everything

4 Reasons Why Thought Catalog Writers Need to Stop Listing Everything

1. You’re insulting our intelligence. Yes, it is hard to believe that 20-somethings have an attention span longer than 140 characters, but (most) 20-somethings do. And, even more shockingly, we can follow a story through from beginning to end without being guided from point to point by bulleted numbers! We can! Do we get a treat now?

2. It’s a cop out. A list is not an example of good writing; it’s an example of being too lazy to flesh out an idea. Sure, lists can be snarky and fun, but they aren’t artistic. If you’re a lister, you don’t have to tear your hair out over every artful transition from thought to thought. You don’t need a nice conclusion or a snappy introduction. You just need, well, the number 1. Show me some paragraphs!

3. The arbitrary numbers. “23 Things You Should Know About Seattle.” “9 Female Archetypes Pop Culture Assumes I Find Attractive, That I Don’t Actually Find Attractive.” “17 Truths About Breakups.” “32 Things Guaranteed To Make You Feel Bad” (sounds awesome…). What about a nice round number like 10? The completely random number of bullet points you wrote makes it clear to me that you didn’t have a plan. You just sat down at your MacBook Air and wrote until you ran out of shit to say. And you probably should have stopped before 32.

4. These lists are boring us. If I wanted to read a long list, I could look at my planner or my credit card statement. Let’s have a story or a convincing argument. Something compelling! There is absolutely no drama in wondering whether point 5 is coming next…

It’s not. Wasn’t that a thrilling turn of events?

One Comment

  1. The Colonel

    Actually, list-making is of venerable age, and was much beloved by the Holy Catholic Church back in the day. Think of all the lists your elders had to learn, sitting respectfully at the feet of Sister Mary Dracula, OP or Mother Euthenasia, RSCJ in grammar school: the seven deadly sins (from memory now, pride, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, sloth…well, that’s six), the five sins that cry to heaven for vengeance (I can remember willful murder, and depriving a labourer of his just wages – – take heed, WalMart Waltons!), the five theological virtues (I don’t think I remember any of these) and the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost, er Holy Spirit. I think for things like that it was regarded, rightly, as a useful mnemonic.

    Aside from matters of piety, I suppose that the main reason for lists of ten best or five worst movies or cars or anything is to give people still sober enough to think and talk something to argue about in bars. Take people my age and try to get a list of the worst cars even made and you’re sure to get a hot discussion over whether it was the Trabant (a piece of junk manufactured in former East Germany during the Bad Old Days) and the Jugo, junk to be sure, but actually imported and sold to a few suckers in this country. Only people who have never seen a Trabant but who have seen a Jugo give the Jugo ‘numero uno’ on the crap car list, but see what I mean? Making lists of this-n-that give people something to argue about besides politics, which always leads to bitterness and hard feelings.

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