Oh no, snap ! You clicked the article just to read something interesting on the internet again?
Is life is so boring that you are constantly exploring (people hardly use explore, so let’s go for chroming) the internet for reasons to escape from life? Things can be dark out there on the world wide web, may be my personal experiences can help you not get caught in the middle of the web.
It so happened that on one of my regular nights of chroming, I was looking for an ‘inspiration’ to start with my content. It has usually been some episodes of Got Talent, Standup comedies and other random videos that I can find on YouTube (sometimes even a cat can kick-start your writing).
On this particular night, it started with “Top 10 Visual Effects You Thought Were Real” that was right there on my YouTube home page. After two hours of watching almost every 5, 7, 10, 13, 17, and 21 visual effects that I thought was real (some repeated) I reached a higher point in my life where I was not gonna give a damn about any more visual effects.
Prescript: I had never been able to figure out the idea behind creating listicles, so here’s what I feel about them !
And, before jumping into how I actually feel about listicles, let’s complete what I started.
I finally decided that I was not going to look at any more visual effects video because for the time I spent on the video, I could’ve watched an entire movie. I thought some good reading can help me clear my thoughts and then came the next topic on my content consumption for the night.
The day broke, but the endless chain of listicles (this time text) never seemed to stop. It was the night/day I realised that I have consumed almost everything that the internet can offer me !
So why write this then? Here is what you’re gonna read in the next few minutes, it is going to be the mumbo jumbo about how the internet is flooded with so many contents out there, just because some SERP expert quoted that ‘content is the king’. Oops ! Did I say something wrong about someone who actually coined it? No idea bro, but let’s go with the flow !
Listicles have been popular among content creators for many years now. Wait, let me rephrase that again — Listicles has been the #1 trend for around 10 years now (sounds better). Sites like BuzzFeed have been creating exclusives for almost anything and everything that can be found on the internet.
This is major because every new thought that occurs to you would have been recorded on the internet by someone somewhere even before you were born. So the meaning of good unique content is actually lost in the dark web (no pun intended), unless you are ready to write your personal Diary as a blog.
Content creators have become content developers/curators, and everyone has been fighting for the 10x content in order to rank higher in the search engines. I have a running joke that 10x content is finding the top 10 contents for a particular keyword in Google and creating a listicle out of them (this is performed by experts, please don’t try this at home). If you’re good enough, always keep one number higher than the existing highest number, just like how Guinness Book of World Records has been publishing a book every time.
#Foodforthought — why is that our brain considers 10 as the magic number for listicles? Is it because the huge popularity of ‘The Ten Commandments’?
Edited: The above has been already joked by The Guardian, which I was unaware of while writing this article.
Disregarding my personal aversion (or the lack of necessary understanding or skills ) to write listicles, I need to agree that as someone who monitors my site’s analytics on a regular basis, that listicles have performed better than long form storytelling articles.
From a user’s perspective, listicles help us to understand the gist of a long form content precisely. Remember the pre-smartphone era, where a grocery shopping was usually done by listing the items needed so that you don’t forget them?
Our brains have been practised to remember numbers much better compared to long form content. If you observe closely, numbers are a combination of randomly chosen 9 digits, but a word is a combination carefully placed 26 letters. Theoretically, the processing speed for the brain should be much faster when numbers are involved and hence there would be a natural inclination towards listicles.
There I have said it that listicles are helping us remember stuff much better. But what is the value added to that? Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch version) had once stated to Watson for his lack of knowledge of the solar system (involving 9 debatable planets and 1 sun), “Listen. This is my hard drive and it only makes sense to put things in there that are useful. Really useful. Ordinary people fill their heads with all kinds of rubbish. And that makes it hard to get at the stuff that matters. Do you see?”
We have been doing the same, in order to fill our emptiness, we have been consuming random contents that might portray us strong amongst the smart, but hardly any to make us feel light.
Looking at the alarming number of listicles, there will come a point where for every ‘n’ number of ways to solve a problem; n’s inability to solve the problem would in turn be a problem and someone should come up with a ‘n+1’ way to solve the same problem.
Maybe the culprit here is the education system where the quality of a student is measured by his ability to cram a maximum number of points and replicate at least 90% of that crammed text in a presentable format (read bulletins).
In order to explain the adversity of the situation we have reached; Imagine the scenario where two students A and B, brought up in the same condition (lifestyle, schooling, college, etc) sit in front of the same interviewee for the same position.
Interviewer: Why should we select you?
Student A: I have 10 qualities that deem me as the ideal candidate for this position.
Student B: I have 21 qualities that deem me as the ideal candidate for this position.
Well, you would have guessed the result, but do you think it was a fair decision? The job might require only 7 qualities (even in the long run) out of the entire list that was given out by the two candidates.
Know what you value more — Is it the value or the value of the value?
Some of you may argue that numbers give more value as they’re quantifiable, but if you check again, you would notice that ‘numbers’ in itself is abstract. It was a means to answer the question ‘how much’. Now you can choose to stick to answering how much or try to answer ‘how much of what’ !
As a takeaway for sitting through this mindless rants (sometimes scamming) remember this,
Quality without quantity might have some meaning, but quantity without quality has no meaning
Postscript: If you were looking for a listicle at some point in this mindless rants — next time you see a listicle ‘never judge a book by its cover’ should be your takeaway ! 😀
Would love to hear your thoughts on listicles !
Image Source: WND.com