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The 3 Reasons Why We Are Obsessed With Lists

Sarah Aspler, 20 June, 2013 1 Comment

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If you think list making is an action reserved for the overly organized you would be very wrong because almost everyone is guilty of using them. Let’s be honest with ourselves for a minute and admit that crossing off an item on our list gives us the thrill of accomplishment. These lists are not limited to grocery store aisles; they are everywhere and have recently become a huge trend over social media and Internet culture. I have made a short list of reasons why we are addicted to lists because it just seems appropriate.

The 3 Reasons Why We Are Obsessed With Lists

1. The Internet is really just one big list:
Lists are embedded into the very essence of the Internet. For example, take a look at media queries. The very act of typing a word into a search engine generates a list of results. The user has the power to instantaneously reorder the list according to their preferences (date, size, type of publication).

2. We are infatuated with ranking:
Historically speaking, society has been fascinated with order, rank and competition. For example, the podium determines the success and talent of an athlete and the military rank determines the responsibilities of a solider. Lists are present in every aspect of society, but the list culture thrives in the entertainment industry. The first bestseller list was released in 1895 which ranked books based on their sales. Another example is the popular Billboard music charts, which first released their Hot 100 list in 1958. Check out 127 Reasons Why We’re Fascinated By Lists for more examples.

3. They spread like wildfire:
The qualities of a list lend itself effortlessly to the Internet culture. They are short, concise and sharable. The insanely popular website Buzzfeed has turned list making into an art form, providing comedic and informative lists for every subject (DIY, Animals, News, Celebritiy). Their use of photos and animated GIFs from pop culture television shows and movies is plain genius. Check out 35 Completely Useless Facts You Need To Know Right Now and 51 Animal Pictures You Need To See Before You Die.
The site reinforces the user’s behaviour of the endless scroll, which adds the addictive traits of the site. Facebook newsfeeds and Twitter dashboards are flooded with links to these articles because they are so shareable. The list trend is even appearing on news websites such as CNN and ABC News. For example, everyday ABC news posts an updated 5 Things To Know This Morning on their website.

Our fascination with lists is not going away anytime soon. Internet users love it because by making lists we are establishing control. We are the new experts in any subject we choose. We determine who is #1 and who didn’t make the list. If there’s anything I know about the Internet for sure it’s that people love to share information, opinions and feelings and lists are a dynamic tool that allows the user to do exactly that.

One Response to “The 3 Reasons Why We Are Obsessed With Lists”

  1. "battologize"

    My name’s Karol from Birdwood, Great Britain and I have to say your article is quite informative. The clearness of your article is very good and I can assume you are an authority on this subject. With your authorization, would you let me to grab your RSS feed to keep up-to-date with new content? Thanks a million and please carry on with the good work.

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