I hate blog lists. Well, let me be more specific – I’m not talking about funny or sarcastic lists – I’m talking about sincere and earnest inventories of advice written by amateur authors on any number of arbitrary subjects that you find when you Google phrases like ‘Most Lucrative Ways to Earn a Living as a Writer’ or ‘Why Does My Heart Feel Weird?’ or ‘Will I Ever Find Love?’ (I MAY or may not have Googled all those phrases.) If you have a problem, chances are, there is a blog list out there with 20 of the top ways to fix it.
Reason #4: They Make Everyone an Expert
Anyone with a mission and access to WordPress can now spout their wisdom about whatever they want – from the proper technique for making water balloons to serious advice on relationships and child rearing. No matter your level of expertise or qualifications, for some reason, if you write a list of helpful hints on a topic, people will read it as the gospel. You could be a psychotically disturbed prisoner typing on a felt-covered keyboard from the corner of your padded cell, but if I see your name (which happens to be ‘LoveyMom68’) attached to a list of the ‘Top 20 Ways to De-stress After a Vacation With Your Kids’, I’m going to believe you know what you’re talking about.
Reason #3: They Assume the Reader is a Complete Moron
Look, I’m sure many of the lists that are posted out there include some valuable information. Stuff that could actually help me become a better wife, mother, etc…..well, if I was really interested in doing that. But, when I make the effort to click on a list titled “Best 15 Ways to Prepare Your Children for School this Fall” only to read that #12 is ‘Pack a nutritious lunch’- um, I feel a bit patronized. Especially when #8 is ‘Make sure they’re wearing pants.’
Reason #2: Sometimes, I Don’t Agree With Them.
This one is related to Reason #5 in that when you have a lot of different types of people giving their opinions on how to do things, you wind up with a lot of different opinions. Opinions that work their way into lists on the internet that other people read and perhaps follow. Perhaps UNWISELY follow. I do read lists that I don’t personally agree with, which is fine, but when I start thinking about people who may be basing their actions – sometimes actions with consequences – on these blogged lists of bad advice, I get very annoyed. They make me want to track down the author and demand a retraction. Well, almost. I’m very lazy.
Reason #1: They Contribute to the Dumbing Down of America
So, here’s where I turn into a pretentious preachy asshole. I understand no one has any time these days between jobs and families and responsibilities and the veritable onslaught of social media sites that seem to multiple faster than you can download the apps for them. Numbered lists and bullet points make for easier reading, especially online. We can scan through a list much more quickly than a long drawn out number of paragraphs and move onto the next list or sound bite or Vine video or animated meme or kitten photo or Facebook post or Twitter feed. But, sometimes I worry about the continued diminishing state of our knowledge-gathering and retention skills that get lost in the process. Unless it’s strictly for entertainment purposes, maybe gleaning advice from blog lists is a poor substitute for investing the time in finding real answers to your problems. Like talking to your loved ones. Or researching career options through an online university. Or taking a class on investment banking. Or maybe long-term cognitive therapy.