Editor’s note: Our Marketing intern John set himself a challenge; to write 2 opinion pieces about “listicles”…in listicle form. One would be positive, and the other negative. 

Below are John’s arguments against listicles. (We’ll follow up with his argument for listicles later in the week). I hope you will join the debate!

Reading a listicle on a listicle meme

First off, if you are unfamiliar with listicles, go over to Buzzfeed and click on any one of their “articles” like, 23 Problems Only Anxious Parents Will Understand or 24 Signs Your Life Revolves Around Snacks.

Here is my personal pessimistic take on this trend. If you’re a lover of listicles though—don’t fret—I tried to be fair. An optimistic companion to this article will be coming later this week.

1. Listicles Are Ruining Our Attention Spans

I highly doubt that many of the devout listicle disciples would be able to stomach a full length feature on most other “traditional” news sites, citing their lack of funny gifs and hilarious one-liners as too much of a bore to read all the way through.

2. Listicles Oversimplify

You can’t boil down international conflict to 5 or 6 pictures and a few sentences. You just can’t. Many of newsworthy events of today are muddled, with different viewpoints and conflicting sides that must be explored thoroughly by reporters. This kind of careful analysis just isn’t compatible with the listicle format.

3. Listicles Disregard Prose

There was a time in literature when prose was a point of pride for writers young and old. It was a signature style that shaped their work, providing a personal voice to their writing. Listicles brazenly disregard this pillar of literature, opting for a numbered lists and pictures.

4. Listicles Are a Cop Out

Most of these listicles are the literary equivalent to a DiGiorno microwave pizza. A quick 3 minutes in the microwave, they are ready to spread to the masses.

5. Listicles Rely on Clickbait to Get Most of Their Traffic

The whole point of Buzzfeed’s listicle titles is to trap their viewers in a never ending loop of related sensationalist titles. This helps them to continue to suck in large amounts of cash from sponsors who realize that if they post their ad on the site, it will be constantly viewed as readers cycle through inane lists.

Essentially Buzzfeed and other such listicle driven entities have done what tabloids did a few decades ago. They exploit the fascinations of their target audience by creating vapid content, tailor-made for a public that wants to be spoon-fed its information.

Building a “news” entity that solely posts low hanging fruit is lazy, and serves little (or no) public benefit.

That is not to say that this style of “writing” has no place on the internet. The internet is the Wild West of viral videos and animals doing ridiculous things, after all. But I do think there should be concern when these types of “articles” become the norm.

Do you agree with John’s negative arguments against listicles? 

John Stewart is a Marketing Intern for WP Engine. He is a Communication Studies major with a minor in English at TCU and is a rock climbing and music enthusiast.