Why are top lists so popular?

Who has never compiled a top ten or a top five list of something? I think just about everyone has made a list or two in their lifetime. Why do we do this? And why do we feel the need to post them online? Here’s my top three list of why we make lists and post them online.

The top three list of why we make lists and post them online

3. We want to organize our minds. The world of today and the foreseeable future isn’t likely to become any less filled with information than it already is. The human brain isn’t equipped to deal with those kinds of information avalanches that sweeps through our world on a daily bases. We need to clear our heads and focus and bring some order to the chaos we perceive the world to be. This is an easy way of dealing with vast quantities of information.

2. We want to belong to a group. I keep getting back to my friend Maslow and his ladder of human needs. The need to belong to a group is very very powerful in humans and therefore we want to make sure that our priorities are the same, alas, we compare our lists. If your list is similar to my list we are alike and could belong to the same group of people with similar taste in music, film, how to raise kids, balloon colours or whatever tickles our imagination that day.

1. We simply cannot concentrate that long anymore. It’s not our fault we have the attention span of goldfish (the famous three seconds) so we put all the important things into lists and small chunks of information because nobody has the attention stamina to read through large bodies of text. Anyone, other than me, ever started to read a story in a magazine just to stop and look for a bullet list or something to capture the gist of the story to see if it’s worth digging through? The fear of missing something important by focusing on something else rears it’s ugly head and snaps it’s fangs at us and instead of whacking it over the head with yesterday’s rolled up paper we run faster from it and try to multi-task.

It can be fun compiling lists of different kinds too. You have to think a bit before putting the list on paper and then of course a bit more before posting it online because someone else is always going to question the order of the list and say you’re wrong because you never mentioned this or that and then you have found a new friend to argue the finer points in balloon colours or heavy metal drum solos with.


Hanna said...

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hye-young said...

I especially agree with that people have a desire to belong to others by sharing their tastes together. I found we had several similar reasons for making lists.