The list—or, more specifically, the listicle—extends a promise of the definitive while necessarily revealing that no such promise could ever be fulfilled. It arises out of a desire to impose order on a life, a culture, a society, a difficult matter, a vast and teeming panorama of cat adorability and nineties nostalgia. Umberto Eco put it dramatically: “The list is the origin of culture. It’s part of the history of art and literature. What does culture want? To make infinity comprehensible. It also wants to create order.”
It’s no surprise that people love digestible lists. They’re easy to consume, literally to the point.
The list format is the main reason this blog entry is one of my more popular posts. Lists are also at the core of Buzzfeed’s content strategy. Call listicles lazy writing/reading but Internet users consume in bite sizes.