5 incredible reasons why clickbait-y listicles with stupid titles like this need to get in the sea
Yes, I know. But you clicked, didn't you? So here we are.
1. They're overdone, overrated, unoriginal, and uninspired
Listicle. Noun. "A piece of writing or other content presented wholly or partly in the form of a list." Thank you, top-of-page Google dictionary results.
The listicle was born out of the assumption that the average reader is lazy. If you put a shell to your ear on the beach nowadays, you hear the faint echo of 'TL;DR' in amongst the whoosh of crashing waves.
Short attention spans! Page scanning! Goldfish generation! If it's not a meme, I'm not reading it! Nobody wants to scroll through an essay when they could be swiping through Tinder, or whatever.
And hey, you clicked. You saw the title, you made a bit of an 'ew, come on Kady, really?' face maybe, you still clicked. There's a truth there. Listicles are very clickable. I bet you were expecting the kind of skimmable bumf you can glance through while a barista's making your decaf latte with the extra shots. (Sorry.)
Sadly, we've taken it too far. A listicle's often more of an indication of how lazy the writer is. And that's what really bugs me.
(Flagging already? Don't worry, I've skipped numbers 2-5. Because I'm the laziest of them all! No, because there aren't 5 points to make. This is the only one that matters.)
Watch this content creator smash out an entire blog post in seconds
I'll try putting myself in another writer's shoes here for a second. They're also my shoes for most of the working week, why the hell not.
Okay, so let's pretend it's crunch time for our writer in the highly versatile shoes. It's whatever day of the week a new blog post goes live. Except there's nothing scheduled. Not even a draft waiting to be uploaded. And the audience waits, expectantly.
Search engines love and reward long-form content with substance - we know this. We know. But there's no time for that. Deadline's getting closer. Fuck it. A listicle it is.
Second to maybe a picspam of cats... and/or memes... and/or cat memes, a list's one of the easiest types of posts to cobble together. If you're on a deadline that's looming larger than Brexit, it seems like the logical option.
Set a nice, comfortable number, and you can hit 500 words without much effort. For 8 items, you'd only need 63 words per item. Seems easy when you put it that way.
I'll concede something: at least with numbering, you're breaking up the text. I love a good sub-heading - a good one, mind. Whack a digit on the front, and it feels different. Less like you're telling a story, and more like you're meeting a quota.
You won't believe how easy it could be to write something else
As I hope you've taken in, this post didn't end up as a list. It clocks in at a bit over 500 words. My 'narked off-ness' (noun), and subsequent willingness to hammer the keyboard, meant it wasn't so hard to write.
The listicle isn't your only option when you're strapped for time. It shouldn't be a default, or a go-to, or something you write because you know it'll be quick. Let's step back and take a break from this format for a while, yeah? Number 4 doesn't shock us anymore.