Last week, BuzzFeed published this: “Why I Hate List-Making.” The author, in more careful words, basically likened list-making to sucking the soul out of the overall experience of music. It’s something I might have agreed with two years ago, but I’ve come to love lists. Younger Me would hate Older Me for saying that. Sorry, Younger Me, but it’s true: I love lists.
At Pigeons & Planes, we makes lists all the time.
The Internet, myself included, is obsessed with lists, but don’t act like this is some new craze. It’s always been there; it just moved online like everything else. Don’t act like watching video countdown shows wasn’t slightly more entertaining than a bunch of random videos in no order. Remember watching MTV at 4 in the morning back in the early 2000s? The only people watching a random stream of music videos at 4 in the morning are drunk or high or living that alternative lifestyle dream, and even they were like, “Okay, this is kind of boring, I’ll watch infomercials.” And that is why we all know what the Magic Bullet is and what it’s capable of.
Music is art, and mindlessly ranking art can be ugly, grating, and distasteful, but a good list is an art in itself. There is a beauty in a well-thought out list of putting Whatever into a concise, easy-to-digest context. It’s a painless entry point into new things, a way to start conversation about something of interest, and a means to express an opinion regarding something you’re passionate about. It’s not always just assigning arbitrary numbers or using as a tool to better position yourself among your peers as a respectable tastemaker. Those lists certainly exist, but blame the perpetrators, not the list format as a whole. It’s like saying country music sucks just because there is some bad country music. Not all of it sucks—just a lot of it, and especially lately.
We’ve all been annoyed by a list at some point, but being annoyed is a slightly more desirable reaction than feeling nothing, because at least you care. Maybe you’ll even be inspired to share some of your knowledge on the topic via a thoughtful comment. Maybe you’ll just be like, “Fuck you, you guys don’t know shit.” But you’ll probably think about it later. It might inspire you to go back and revisit something—some album, song, or artist that you care about—and that’s a positive, right?
It has been said that, in this era, you are what you share. That sounds kind of pathetic, but keep in mind it’s been twisted up by some fear-monger to make us feel ashamed of our obsession with social media, like we are exchanging heartbeats for Twitter updates and losing some beautiful part of our own precious humanity. This kind of talk is for the hippies, and post-Internet hippies are on the fringe, so don’t trust them too much.
Now this is all coming from a fucking music blogger who goes by “Confusion,” so take it with a grain of salt, but sharing our likes and dislikes over the Internet can enhance our human experience. One thing that makes humans such special animals is our ability and overwhelming desire to connect with other humans, to communicate on levels that run deeper than grunting, snorting, or howling at others of our kind who are close enough to hear our voices. And we are still evolving. Now, instead of arguing with our best friends about our favorite album of the year, we can argue with our friends and complete strangers from the opposite side of this massive ball of Earth—we can engage in opinion-sharing with people who have entirely different perspectives, life experiences, and tastes. That is a beautiful thing.
At the end of her article, Rachael Maddux recalls never placing a Hanson sticker on her van back in high school (even though she loved Hanson) because it didn’t “fit” with some version of herself that she wanted to be seen as. But maybe that’s just because she wasn’t confident in her own taste. Maybe it’s because she had an inkling that Hanson didn’t fit in with her Wilco and Weezer stickers for a reason. After all, there are reasons that things are guilty pleasures, and it usually has to do with a lot more than the over-simplified explanation that we are all so worried with what everyone else in the world will think of us.
It’s strange to be talking about lists and guilty pleasures, because lists may very well be the ultimate Internet guilty pleasure for some people, up there with cat memes, weird porn, and Twitter stalking. Those people that claim they hate lists are usually the ones out there arguing in the comments sections, Twitter stalking the authors of these fuckery-filled lists while they click through cat meme Tumblrs and fill out free memberships to German pornography websites. Admit it.
There’s no reason to be guilty of liking lists. They can be annoying, they can piss you off, they can make you feel like you just got sucked in to somebody’s own declaration of a carefully contrived image. But that’s not all lists, and all lists are not served up with foul intentions. Look, the Internet is made for sharing. It’s what we do, not only as jittery post-Y2K spazzes, but as human beings. Just go with it. It’s alright to love Hanson, and it’s certainly okay to like lists.
It seems only appropriate to finish this off properly, with a list. If you’re one of those people who hates lists, feel free to exit at this point. For the rest, I’d like to share the Top Three Reasons Why List-Making Is A Good Thing.
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