By: Jacob Millay
For those of you who use the internet often, which I think is most of the population of the world, you may have noticed some interesting trends that pop-up briefly and then disappear like a supernova burning out.
Some of these trends include incredibly foolish challenges offered by online strangers who enjoy witnessing pain or discomfort. This would include your cinnamon challenge, milk gallon challenge, eating very spicy food challenge, or other similar actions that people take to inflect pain upon themselves for apparent reason.
Other trends include charities where you either dump ice water on your head or donate money to cure ALS, stream videogames where people donate to get games into hospitals, or even attempts to capture a foreign militia leader and war criminal who was apparently rampaging across Uganda in 2012.
These various trends may be good or bad. However, there is one trend that has gotten far more traction than any of these. Each and every one of you is familiar with this trend if you have spent any time on social media in the past five years And that trend is the list blog.
A “list blog,” which is my name for this rage-inducing trend on the internet, is a way to easily collect and spread information in the form of a list. They generally have a click-bait title to draw in potential readers who most likely only see the headline of the article. They could range from “Ten Reasons Why Trump Would Be A Good President” (which, terrifyingly, is a real article) to “16 Unbelievably Rude Texts From Canadian Winter.”
Many of these blogs are shared over social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Tumblr, Reddit, Let, Instagram, Snapchat, Google +, Pinterest, Vine, or maybe even good old electronic mail. Someone finds them interesting or funny, and the next thing you know the article is plastered over everyone’s accounts. And perhaps the biggest purveyor of these lists is the media giant Buzzfeed. If you go on their website at any given time, a list will be there to assault your eye sockets.
Now, you might be thinking: “Hey, I like Buzzfeed! What does this guy have against Buzzfeed? Is he jealous that they get way more views than his blogs could ever get because they use funny relatable gifs and pictures instead of all these dumb words?”
Well, yes, I am a little jealous of how popular these lists have gotten. I don’t, however, think that these lists are making people stupider. The people who read Buzzfeed were not going to go out and pick up a copy of Chaucer if that website didn’t exist. They would just find some other similar, vapid way of spending their time.
However, I do think that Buzzfeed and the hundreds of similar copycat websites are harmful. They have taken one of the most creative spaces in the universe, the internet, and turned it into the same blog over and over. Why would someone work hard to create an original website, blog, or video when creating trivial trash nets them many more views which in turn create cash for their website? It is so incredibly easy to stagnate when this business model of creating click-bait titles with lists is the only thing that gets views.
Another potential problem with many of these lists blogs is that they take things that are definitely rooted in opinion and present them as facts. Some of these are trivial such as “10 Must See Movies from the 80’s.” Well, I think that Predator should be number one, but I understand why they put Indiana Jones at the top of the list. However, some of these lists are presenting some heavy issues by using this guise of a list to protect the author.
Some lists deal with depression, relationships, religion, anxiety, alcoholism, and other similar important issues that plague people’s lives. But instead of actually dealing with any of these issues, the article simply skims the surface by presenting “5 Broad Things Anxious People Experience On A Bi-Weekly Basis.” For some people, they take the statement of this article taken as fact and then turn around and self-diagnose themselves with a disorder that they simply do not have.
At least that is one positive spin to my hatred of these list blogs. If I use that argument, it makes it look like I am humanitarian. It looks like I am standing up for the little man in this situation. I could also complain that these lists make the readers generalize everything into these tiny, easy to understand boxes when in reality, nothing is that simple. And those things are true… Partially.
At the end of the day, I hate lists blogs not for these logical, well-thought out reasons. I hate them for the same reason that I hate Justin Bieber. They are popular and I want them to go away.
Will this blog change anything about those blogs? No, probably not. Oh well. It was worth a shot.
Jacob Millay (’16) is an English Education major at Whitworth University. He is a master of consuming, whether that is the newest David Fincher film, the newest Death Cab for Cutie album, or his mother’s spaghetti. He wishes he had any plans for after graduation or for next weekend, but, alas, he has none.