The Problem With Lists

I’ve really been thinking about the last list I made, of the supposedly Greatest Love Songs of All Time.

The more I reflect on it, the more it kinda sucked and the more pointless it is to make a list of love songs. Just in the time since writing it, I’ve heard about 30 songs where – since the blog was fresh on my mind – I thought to myself, “Dammit, I should have put this one on the list.”

Naturally, this being me, it made me start thinking about lists in general and how they’ve always been sort of pointless, and in the era of mass customization, they’re even pointless. Yet we’re inherently drawn to create lists. We always have a phalanx of “Countdown“ or “Top Moments” broadcast to the world at the close of every year.

Human Nature (Also A Great Song)

We want to impose order on things. It makes things less scary.

We also like to be in groups of the like–minded, and sometimes we like to fight.

Lists are a way to force ourselves to “choose sides.” We love to choose sides. Just scroll through your Facebook feed some day to see how much we love to choose sides and get people to opine on what we consider to be universal truth about something or other. I’m actually at the point where I’m actively trying to combat this and post nothing but relatively frivolous stuff. We’ve all got to loosen the Hell up.

(Side note: Political Facebook posts are like bumper stickers. If you can be swayed by them, I’m not entirely sure I want you on “my side.” I&rsdquo;d rather my way of life die on its feet than live on my knees as it were.)

Back on topic, lists are just kind of dumb since their only purposes appear to be

  1. Spurring argument;
  2. Self–Validation; and
  3. Codifying opinion.

Seems kind of silly when you think about it.

No More Lists?

Will I stop making lists? No, not at all. Of course I&rsquo’ll keep making lists. They’re a lot of fun.

I think I need to approach them from a sillier angle. Whenever I’ve tried to be serious about them, it blows up in my face. (As an aside, it was especially humiliating how badly I botched that one in my rush to get it done on a self-imposed deadline.)

The fun lists are the ones that aren’t trying to rank things as authoritatively more awesome than other things, but allow an opportunity to expose something fun.

For instance, when The Clone spurred on The Shameful List, that was a lot of fun to write, and discuss.

So What Topics Out There?

Not that I expect a torrent of recommendations since people like The Korean Cigarette Smoking Moriarty Man tend to lurk unless they sense some sort of fight to be had, but I need some topics. I’m in a list–type mood and want to hear them.

Send me an e–mail, hit me on @kesseljunkie on Twitter. Give me an idea of a fun list, and I’m happy to start the ball rolling.

Oh, wait! I think I’ve got one…


5 thoughts on “The Problem With Lists

  1. Lists are awesome. Fighting over lists is even better. And picking on people for confusing their Stones albums actually impresses very few people at all.

      1. But, seriously, lists are awesome. Pretty much any debate where there is no absolute correct answer creates the opportunity for passionate, fun, completely meaningless argument, and that’s what i live for.

  2. What about Schindler’s list, you racist? Should Schindler not have bothered with that one either because he couldn’t possibly save ALL the Jews?

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