- “10 things you need for a perfect […]”
- “5 must-have tools for a successful […]”
- “365 ways to […]”
- “These are the 23 best views in America.”
- “These 15 images will make you forever see your [blah blah blah] differently.”
- “You get one point for each experience you’ve had. Share your results.”
The list can be a round number like ’10’, or seemingly random, like ’23’. Anyway, I don’t have a cure; only the observation that the internet is an endless supply of lists for people who gravitate toward enumerating perfection and objectifying comparisons and rankings. A numbered list or checklist is a way to compare yourself to others, or test your level of perfection against a list compiled by someone who is likely not qualified. Example: “24 ways to raise perfect children”, *barf*.
Before the internet, it was magazines like Cosmo:
“Kitty: Good news, Red. I just took Cosmo’s ten ways to please your man in bed test, and I got nine out of ten! But I didn’t get number three because I’m a nurse and number three is icky.”
So anyway, stop it. I say caringly and forcefully.
- If you are going to compare yourself, or if you are motivated by a set of goals, make sure the goals fit you. Number them if you must, but make them your own.
- When you are reading articles on the internet and you start to click on an article that is based on a numbered list, consider the source. Consider the amount of time you’ll waste only to find that:
- Of course you ‘failed’ to check off everything on the list.
- Of course the thing you think is the best didn’t even make the list.
- Of course you scored less points than your younger Facebook friend, because you haven’t been arrested or haven’t tried that one drug, or haven’t been to Gravahispanoslavanda.
It is truly a worthless, and counterproductive exercise. I vow to remind myself of that next time I see a list to click on. Sure, that list of pretty views is missing the one I think is best, but that’s because the list is a few photos someone spent 5 minutes harvesting from other people’s internet sites. Sure, ‘Karen’ made a list that got people talking or arguing, but ‘Karen’ may actually be a guy who really needs to put on some trousers and go mow the lawn.
Rant over. Sorry for the list.
This rant has been festering in my draft folder for a really long time. Then this week, Billy Bragg, a singer-songwriter (who actually does his own social media interacting) put out a new song about these internet phenomenons. His almost-Cockney accent made me have to listen hard for the lyrics, but it was worth the effort. Internet behavior makes for good lyrics. ‘Rabbit holes’ rhymes nicely with ‘rabid trolls’.
“…Ten mysterious photos that can’t be explained are draining away the best of my day, and fragments of songs that I never wrote are rotting in the pockets of my winter coat…” “Just a click away from all of the facts…” “Common sense, like art, is in the eye of the beholder.”