Four reasons why listicles are bad

Listicles (a portmanteau of list and article) appear to be useful. They provide quick bites of useful information in an easily digestible format. There are big downsides though.

As an analogy consider fast food: while it’s cheap and easy to get it’s not particularly healthy. We trade wholesomeness for convenience. Listicles operate on a similar basis but they affect your brain. 

They feed into the tactic of low-value click-baity content designed for clicks at the expense of really understanding something deeply. Lists are useful for shopping and tracking your to-dos but not for understanding. You cannot really understand something by reading through what is essentially a list of soundbites. 

This passive consumption of superficial content blunts your thinking as you are not typically critically reviewing the content which means you are following someone else’s viewpoint leading to lazy thinking. If you must, consider a listicle as a pointer to something rather than the thing itself. 

Given the nature of popular media today catering to short attention-spans as it does it follows that the type of writing in listicles feeds the instant gratification fix i.e. it is dumbed-down. If you regularly consume this content it will influence your thinking. We are, after all, what we consume.