Everybody loves the ‘listicles’ (a portmanteau of ‘list’ and ‘articles’) featured on such sites as Buzzfeed and Cracked. I admit to enjoying them. But they tend to fall into broad, repetitive patterns, some of which drive me absolutely bananas. Here are 5 ‘listicles’ that will cause me to go into a blind fury and strangle whoever posts them on my facebook feed.

1. Shallow, unhelpful, and occasionally untrue health advice

You know what I’m talking about. This is where you are guaranteed a long life, smooth skin and great sex to boot if you just follow the random, supposedly ‘health promoting’ advice the intern at health_is_sexy.com googled this morning. This collection of home remedies, pure quackery and real medicine make these lists as confusing as they are unhelpful in promoting health.

Penecillin Cures Gonorrhea


“Or if penecillin’s not your thing, try rubbing cat vomit on your ears!”

2. Things not to say to people

This is taking the PC ‘right to not be offended’ to new heights. Every group of people with anything remotely unusual about them has one of these lists telling the rest of us what not to say in their presence. All the valid points in these lists could be summed up in four words, “Don’t be a jerk.”

Walking on Eggshells pic

flickr, user Pink Sherbet Photography

“Egg-shells belong in the compost, not under my feet while I’m talking to you.”

3. Things every person X age feels/does/has done/should do

By reading these lists one might be lead to believe that life is a certain path, inevitably starting with blowout college parties, followed by one’s twenties spent drinking, working like a dog and enjoying copious promiscuous sex, followed inevitably in one’s thirties by settling down in a nice house in the suburbs with a spouse, a dog and 2.5 children, as well as a successful and well paid job at the office. Thank G-d most of our lives are more complex and interesting than that.

Evolution of the Mobile Phone

flickr, user weelakeo

“Because clearly the unfolding of every human life is as clear and predictable as Moore’s Law.”

4. Problems only ‘X’ understand

Yeah, it’s so hard working IT, being tall, short, black, white, poor, rich, middle class, foreign… whatever you are. Isn’t it good to know that there’s some insightful editor over at Cracked.com who knows your pain? The number of ‘listicles’ (and other viral content) that want you to click on them just because they mention the small sub-group of humanity you belong to, without any meaningful content, boggles the mind.

Muffler Men statue of Paul Bunyon

flickr, user “heck, j g”

“10 problems only 50 foot tall lumber-jacks understand”

5. Things you didn’t know about some benign everyday product (like bread) and why it will kill you

In our fearful culture, we don’t need more scary headlines backed up with dubious or overblown facts. We have plenty of random dangers to worry about without somebody collecting and regurgitating a list of them every few days when a deadline looms. Just let us live in blissful denial for a few minutes a day!

Unexploded Ordinance Warning sign

wikimedia, Forest & Kim Starr

“You can’t even trust ‘ordnance’ to explode. It’s a dangerous world out there.”

Thanks for reading. I hope this post will save lives. And no, I will not stop putting the word ‘listicles,’ in scare quotes.