Lily Sanchez, Chattanooga, Tenn. — The year 2013 saw an interesting rise in collections of writing in the form of detailed lists, idiomadically named the “listicle.”
These articles have flooded our social media feed and continue to do so in 2014. The lists provide a myriad of tips, compilations and insights for the average social media user. Blog-inspired news and creative writing platforms such as Buzzfeed, Thought Catalog and HelloGiggles, a site geared towards the female demographic, all dip into this writing style seemingly more often these days.
On any given day, one could bet good money that at least two or three of these “listicles” will appear on Facebook or Twitter.
But what is the appeal? Why have millenials suddenly become consumed by these pieces that are reminiscent of mere fact stating?
Research shows that the “listicle” has been around for decades, but has recently made its way into journalism as a default format because of its appeal to the short attention span. It also creates a sense of organization for the writer to isolate and condense their ideas.
Because of this, one could argue that the “listicle” is characteristic of Generation Y. We are an impatient generation who want results as quick as possible, which sometimes leads to passing up on quality for immediacy.
I believe that these types of articles have created an enabling method for writers to turn their craft into strictly business, which within the right context, could be a beneficial byproduct of journalism. My concern is that the writers who create these types of articles are considering their audience from an economical standpoint, and that because of this the pieces themselves are being jeopardized.
If I could distinguish one negative characteristic of the “listicle,” I would point out the fact that it gives way to a lazier approach to writing as well as reading. While it is an efficient way of organizing information, it negates any type of creative transitions in pieces that writers would otherwise be exposed to and forced to use.
Also, traditional journalism is founded on the notion that our ideas should be concise and to the point. While lists fill this requirement, it does so in a way that denies readers a full journalistic experience. Because of our nurtured habits, when given a piece in list format, we tend to skim over the bulk of the article, discrediting the work that the writer puts into it. This is especially unfortunate because these types of articles are mostly opinion pieces, wherein the writer is figuratively crying out to the public for his or her words to be heard.
Journalism is both a craft and a science, and when it becomes monotonous to the point where a writer will go to ridiculous ends to reach out to the public, it isn’t only his or her essence that is being compromised, it is the voice of all journalists who have to work harder to prove that they can deliver thoughtful and well-crafted pieces to the public. I think there is a time and place for the “listicle,” but when it becomes less about the content and more about meeting a level of web traffic, something needs to be changed.