Shawn Maxam makes a list too. So add it to the lists of things you have to do.
Lists are anti-democratic, discriminatory, elitist, and sometimes the print is too small.-David Ives
The Internet loves lists. Actually society as a whole loves lists. From Forbes lists of highest paid celebrities to Rolling Stone’s greatest albums lists we are bombarded by lists from the media to our own friends on Facebook. I think reducing life to simple lists is pretty reductionist but hey it is still fun as hell to read them.
Often when I read lists I try and keep a few things in mind which allows me to enjoy them just for what they are:
- Lists are usually very subjective. Even those lists about the richest rappers and actors are based upon educated guesses and speculation.
- Lists are by their nature vague because they are made for quick and easy consumption.
- Lists tend to repetitive. Recycling the same specific information in different orders. A perfect example is Maxim’s hot 100 which usually has eighty of the exact same women each year.
- The longer the list the more filler. Half of the albums on Rolling Stone’s greatest albums are arguably not that great. Hence bullet number one on this list.
- The best lists are usually too short.
- The worsts lists are usually too long.
- The average list becomes obsolete rather quickly. The American Film Institute had to update its 100 Greatest Films lists after ten years because after their original list came out the Lord of the Rings trilogy was made.
- Lists are addictive. They exploit our desire to rank things and see things ranked.
- Lists are rarely very substantive. They are made for broad mass consumption so there isn’t usually room for any nuance or depth to be explored.
- Lists are really easy to start but hard as hell to finish. This list took me several hours.
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