They’re blog posts like “7 Tips for Successful Container Gardening” or “6 Things You Need to Know About Facebook Privacy.”
List posts are considered blogging gold by online content creators and marketers. They’re often cited as a no-fail method to engage readers and build interest.
After all, people like to-do lists and they like titles with numbers in them, which tell them exactly what – and how much – to expect in a post.
Like the title of this post… You’re hooked already, right?
That’s the conventional wisdom. One of my rules for living a more authentic life, however, is to never trust conventional wisdom. (Stay tuned for my upcoming list post on “Five Reasons to Ignore Conventional Wisdom”!)
So I’m here to tell you that list posts are bad, very bad. At best, they muddle your thinking, at worst, they pitch you into a shame-spiral of failure and underachievement.
Here are four reasons to stop reading list posts – today! (Yes, this is all very meta.)
1. A list post is another list in your life. Don’t you have enough of these already? A list post means another list that you’ll print out or write down and carry around with you in your phone or your pocket. Or you’ll put the list somewhere so that it stares back at you all day – from your desk or your computer screen – beseeching you to act. Mocking you when you don’t.
List posts are the bunny rabbits of online self-help, endlessly propagating advice that pollutes your mind with how-to overload. This creates anxiety and is bad for your health.
Just say no.
2. List posts are addictive. If you don’t just say no to list posts, trust me, you’ll never get enough of them. They’ll never satiate your endless need to fill the empty recesses of your soul with pablum on how to do more, do better, do more simply, do, do, do!
I conducted a quick (i.e. ridiculously unscientific) experiment to illustrate the insidiousness of list posts. I went to Google and started ten searches, each beginning with “10 ways”, “9 ways”, “8 ways”, etc., on down, and these are the first Google-suggested list posts that popped up in search results:
“10 Ways to Make Money on the Side”
“9 Ways to Win Powerball”
“8 Ways to Bully a Kid in Minecraft” (wow)
“7 Ways to Discipline Your Child”
“6 Ways to Sunday” (Ok, this is an outlier, and a stupid expression.)
“5 Ways to Say ‘I Love You’”
“4 Ways of Knowing”
“3 Ways of Learning”
“2 Ways to Live”
“1 Way Trip to Mars” (hunh)
Admit it, you want to read at least one or two of these, don’t you? So do I. But the key is total abstinence. You must go cold turkey.
3. List posts take too much time. Reading a list post takes time. Deciding whether to follow the advice in the list post takes time, saving it takes time, doing it takes lots of time. Imagine all that you could accomplish if you just ignore these time suckers… Wait, don’t imagine, that wastes more time… Move on.
4. List posts set you up for failure. Face it, Dear Reader, you’re never going to follow those five steps to better organize your files, or do those eight easy craft projects to beautify your home, or take those six steps to “change your life now.” Oh, you’ll try. Then you’ll fail.
It’s better to never start.
So declare your freedom and pledge to never read another list post again. Right now. If you do, I guarantee you’ll avoid a lot of grief.
But first, don’t forget to share this list post.