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20,000 Reasons Why Lists Are Ruining Good, Editorial Writing

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Ha! You’ve been fooled! There will not be a single bullet point or list in this article–sorry to anyone who was let down by my blatant lie of a title. Abandon all hope, ye who’ve entered! You may have to read something that is multiple sentences long and not structured to fit your Internet-diagnosed attention deficit disorder. And you want to know why? It’s because I hate lists and I hate that all of you people love them so much.

Lists are literally the worst thing to happen to me since I had to stop getting drunk on Tuesday and Thursday nights at college while getting away with stealing people’s entire liquor cabinets. Lists are on par with Kim Kardashian, maybe a little worse. They have stolen the metaphorical crown of shit that seem to focus mostly on Justin Bieber, Ukraine literally exploding, and Hollywood thinking it was okay to remake “Robocop.”

These lists have got to go! Take some pride in being an Internet writer and indulge the world with a thought that extends past 140 characters. I would be lying if I didn’t say that I think our attention spans have been warped by our beloved Twitter. When you’re talking to the world in machine gun bursts, how can anyone focus on anything? My Facebook feed has become a rolodex of recommended lists, and half the time that I spend scrolling through Twitter, I’m not even reading the whole thought that is already 140 characters or less.

Fuck, that’s pathetic!

Maybe my suicide note should be written in list form. Then someone may read it. Relax! I’m just kidding, people! You got to use shock tactics these days to keep attention. I have no plans on doing any such thing. I’m having too much fun making fun of everyone’s illiteracy, and I still haven’t reached my point–I know, if this were a list, you’d be done rolling your eyes by now and off to the magical realm of pornhub.com.

This is going to date myself a bit, but when I was in middle school and early high school, I used to have a LiveJournal. I know, I know, the amount of teenage, pre-coital angst in a single LiveJournal post could out weigh a black hole. But, while the writing on that site may have been whiney and not a work of Tolstoy, we all still read it. I know for a fact that I read all of my followers’ posts. If one was annoying or poorly written, I’d skim through it and move forward. But I still read most of them and engaged in them.

No one did lists back then either. And let’s be honest, most things that are put into lists are never good things. Whenever I write a list for myself, I’m anxiously trying to cross off each bullet until it’s done and I can never look at it again (grocery lists, hit lists, etc.). The point of putting thoughts into list form is to make things clearer, or to untangle the knot of thoughts that can sometimes make our lives confusing. You’re not only insulting your own ability to think and write for extended periods of time, but you’re insulting your audience and its ability to comprehend longer thoughts. You should know how to get people to read and listen.

You’re a writer, damn it! Write! A list is pre-writing outline at best.

Is that what you want to be known for? Is that what your thoughts put into words are worth to you? If that’s the case, list away! You can make a list like 25 Reasons Why I Haven’t Read A Book Straight Through Since Johnny Tremain or 15 Reasons Why BuzzFeed Shouldn’t Be But Still Is My Homepage. And then after you’ve completed your magnum opus, 365 Reasons Why Netflix is My True Soulmate, you can make a string of personal lists, like one of all the different shows you want to watch and rewatch, one all of the actors or actresses you want to bang, or one of all of the things you want to achieve but never will before you regretfully procreate with a person who was on your real-life Want To Bang list. You could also make lists of all of the brands of hotdogs you want to try, or of all of the people in history you want to be reincarnated as besides yourself, or one of all of your favorite Bruce Springsteen cover songs from the 2000s. Then, take a breath for two seconds and think about everything you’ve ever listed in your entire life: all of the points and short-winded thoughts that were meant to come across quickly to others or yourself, everything you’ve ever tweeted, every time you’ve ever farted. Compare these lists to something with a little more girth to them, and sit and ponder–in list format if you’d really like–about whether or not people will remember your trick shot to Internet immortality or the one time you took a chance to extend some sort of emotional feeling that was fleshed out in words, not points.

You shouldn’t need a list to sum up one tiny morsel of the human experience that you want to communicate that day. You’re better than that, and your readers are better than that, too. I understand the appeal of lists, I do. We’re walking, talking, eating, texting, shitting, and fucking all at once these days. Welcome to 2014! But every now and again, I do think it’s important to take a little time, a little space, a couple words, and breathe onto the digital paper. Give people the chance a list never does. Think about your thoughts, and let us do the same.

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MorganBalrog

Morgan Balog. 24. Starving writer. Half human. Half black hole.

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