Lists are everywhere. They’re the bread and butter of sites like Cracked and BuzzFeed, and regular content or sporadic filler at dozens more. (Yes, even WIRED.) From the multimedia gallery to the humble top 10, list-format articles — listicles — are rapidly becoming the lingua franca of new-media journalism.
They’ve met with no end of resistance from the old guard, cantankerous readers and old-school journalists convinced that listicles (and their admittedly unfortunate portmanteau) are rotting our brains, destroying our attention spans, and generally contributing to the decay of all that is right and good. Listicles have been picked apart, analyzed, attacked, explained, and defended.
Are lists overused? Probably. Useful things often are, and lists are really, really useful. Here’s why we like ‘em, and why they probably won’t — and probably shouldn’t — go anywhere soon.