What can I say? The infamous, all-powerful “listicle” is a FORCE OF NATURE.
In the online eco-system just promise a list of some sort in the headline and watch the clicks come in. Everyone online with a brain in their head does it whether they’re peddling political commentary or bikini slide shows.
There’s no big secret about why list articles are so popular and effective: they provide order to the chaos. Out of the seeming infinity of ideas, these particular items have been selected and put into this particular arrangement for your debate and amusement.
My favorite lists are the ones where the items are actually ranked in some logical order. Then it creates a whole extra level of debate and discussion: which item is best or worse? How do we weigh which we want to praise? What qualities do we want more of in the world and ourselves?
In the coming months at PJ Lifestyle we’re going to begin shifting toward a weekend list article emphasis. While during the week we’ll continue to feature many quick posts and articles on the subjects of the day, the slower pace of the weekends lends themselves to the longer lists. So on weekends in addition to brand new lists, I’m going to republish our best lists from last year and also article-compilations-turned-list-posts. (For example: check out this 9-part dissection of House of Cards from Becky Graebner, published last week compiling and reformatting her articles from last year.)
Each weekend I’m going to republish five of our best and most popular lists from last year — 3 on Saturdays, 2 on Sundays, followed by an update of this post here with the newest rankings. Of the 10 that I’ve republished so far, this seems like a good place to start to get the discussion going:
50. Kyle Smith: 5 Smart Comedies You Haven’t Seen on Netflix
49. Becky Graebner: 4 Ways Being a Sorority Girl Prepared Me for the Real World
48. Paula Bolyard: 5 Things Planned Parenthood Doesn’t Want You to Know About Pregnancy Resource Centers
47. John Boot: 5 Reasons Zach Galifianakis Is a Hack
46. Kathy Shaidle: Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation: 6 Gen-Xers I Can Actually Stand
45. Bonnie Ramthun: The 5 Worst Books for Your Children
44. Susan L.M. Goldberg: 5 Uncomfortable Truths HBO’s Girls Reveals About American Pop Culture Today
43. Megan Fox: 8 Reasons Homeschooling Is Superior to Public Education
42. Chris Queen: The 10 Things You Must Do At DisneyLand
41. Walter Hudson: 5 Tips for Coming Out as a Black Conservative
In ranking these articles that my friends and colleagues have written, I’m judging them in much the same way that I’d rank movies, books, hamburgers, or any other subjectively-quantifiable work. Obviously some articles will have inherent advantages based on the subject matter — Walter’s inspiring article on being a black conservative hits a bit harder than highlighting memorable comedies on Netflix. But that’s alright. Comedies, dramas, and fantasy epics all get nominated for best picture and judged together, so too it should be with our New Media genre of choice, the Mighty Listicle.
So what do you think? Which pieces do you like? What lists would you like to see in the future? What debates about everything from culture to entertainment to war and God need to be had through the magic of the list format?
How would you change my ranking of the articles? (Feel free to copy and paste and rearrange and if there are any from last year you want to petition for now is a good time to link to them. I’ve already assembled a list of my 50 favorites but there are certainly some I’m forgetting…)