SUBHEAD: We read them in order to substantiate our mastery. What's more satisfying than "Ha, I knew that!"
By Charles Hugh Smith on 26 May 2013 for of Two Minds -
Image above: Google image results for "The 7 Best Deep-Fried Turkey Disaster Videos" resulted in this scene in Babylon, Long Island. New York. From (http://www.newsday.com/long-island/attempt-to-deep-fry-turkey-causes-n-babylon-blaze-1.1624156).
Please set your irony meter to 11....
Irony alert: yes, I am posting a list to critique articles that hook readers with lists:you know what I mean, the endless stories based on lists: 7 dumb things we do with smart phones (#1: turn them on, #2: continue texting while we distractedly drive off a cliff), 6 best gifts for pets, 9 greatest celebrity comebacks, 10 foods to avoid, 10 foods that reduce cancer, 5 chilling revelations about Benghazi, 15 hottest housing markets, and so on.
Now that you've set your irony meter to 11:
1. Lists are crack cocaine for curiosity. We already know the 10 foods to avoid, and that nine of them are our favorites, but we can't resist seeing if there is some outlier in the list we didn't know about.My friend and mentor Jim Kunstler was kind enough to invite me to his podcast program: KunstlerCast #330: A Conversation with Charles Hugh Smith.
2. Lists activate our desire to contest the selection. What, no John Travolta on the greatest celebrity comebacks? That is so wrong....
3. Lists compel us to read them in order to substantiate our mastery. Very few things are more satisfying than "ha, I knew that."
4. Lists activate our need to find our place in the hierarchy. Are we in one of the hottest housing markets, or not even on the list? We want to know our status in the pecking order, even if it entirely arbitrary and meaningless.
5. Lists encourage mind-candy addictive behavior, i.e. jumping from one bite-sized list of low-value, repetitive content to another. As if the culture isn't already attention-deficit disabled enough.
6. Lists challenge us to guess which filter was used to derive the list. What was left off the list, and why? Was it overlooked, edited out because it was taboo (or not taboo enough)? The editorial process of fabricating the list is generally unexplained, but we can't ascertain how clumsy or misguided the list might be until we read it. But by then, the list has accomplished its purpose, i.e. logged a page view.
7. I only have six reasons, but 7 sounds better than 6.
I mention my "Hollywood ending" for 2013: a stock market collapse that utterly discredits the Federal Reserve's policies and all those who supported them. We also discuss the insane costs of sickcare.