Ten Reasons I post Lists

Every once in a blue moon, I get asked why so many of my blog posts are in list-form. So I figured I’d answer that question with…a list of course!

  1. Lists are Popular - Every month, between seventy and ninety percent of my most read blog posts are list-related. So tell me: what would you do? Exactly.
  2. Lists are Efficient – There’s a whole lot of information out there, and sometimes we want to skim something to see if it’s worth reading further. Or we just want o skim it and move on. With a list, you can be pretty sure you’re getting the main stuff with a cursory once-over.
  3. Lists Offer Order –  Our lives often feel chaotic, so when someone can sort things into simple understandable order for us, it actually triggers reward responses in our brain. So effectively, we’re addicted to lists.
  4. Lists Give Us Something to Disagree With - We love to argue, so lists are an easy way to contest findings that might be harder in a more nuanced, esoteric narrative form.
  5. Lists are Fun to Share – Something about sharing lists gives us the sense that we’re tastemakers, giving us a sense that we’re sharing some insider information, even if the list (like this one) is arbitrarily assembled.
  6. Lists are Comparative/Competitive – We tend to have a personal investment in the things we like. We come to identify with them, from favorite authors and bands to sports teams. So by seeing where the things we like rank against others, we get a kind of vicarious validation in the process.
  7. Lists Offer Safe, Healthy Variety – Whereas an article about one subject will only appeal to one demographic of people, lists tend to cast a broader net, allowing an otherwise disparate combination of things to be pulled together in one spot. And we like choices, but too many options just gets overwhelming.
  8. Lists Suggest Authority – There’s so much out there in the world to sort through that it can be exhausting sorting out the crap from the good stuff. When someone has an authoritative list that helps us do that – whether the authority comes from their own expertise or from a consensus of the crowd – it can help assure us that we’re getting the good bits.
  9. Lists are Easy to Find Fault With – Something in human nature causes us to love to tell other people what they forgot, left out or got wrong. Lists are great fodder for that, and I’m sure that even for this list, someone will point out at least one thing I should have included but didn’t.
  10. Lists Can Give Us a Plan – If you’ve ever created a to-do list, you know how satisfying it can be to mark off things as you finish them. These days, people are way into making “bucket lists” of all the must-do stuff to accomplish before they die. But if you’ve always thought you’d like to read more Christian blogs, see great movies or read the best books on a subject, having a list to work your way through over time allows us to set achievable goals, and then experience the reward of satisfaction if we complete it.

About Christian Piatt

Christian Piatt is the creator and editor of BANNED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE BIBLE and BANNED QUESTIONS ABOUT JESUS. He co-created and co-edits the “WTF: Where’s the Faith?” young adult series with Chalice Press, and he has a memoir on faith, family and parenting being published in early 2012 called PREGMANCY: A Dad, a Little Dude and a Due Date.

  • http://triangulations.wordpress.com/ Sabio Lantz

    Interesting list about lists. Meta-list thinking.
    I love Taxonomies — and lists are the stuff needed to start building taxonomies.
    But what I find interesting in this post is trying to discern what parts were tongue-in-cheek. For certainly much of it should be tongue-in-cheek and poking fun at the human mind! :-)


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