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Smabs Sputzer | Flickr
Smabs Sputzer | Flickr
  1. A lis­ticle is infor­mation served like a plate of cookies (20 of them! Just for you!) straight out of the oven. You sniffed out that oh-so-tempting number in the headline and despite your best inten­tions, you’re history.
  2. Not even the nasty word “lis­ticle” can deter you.
  3. The MacMillan Dic­tionary defines “lis­ticle” as “an article, espe­cially on the Internet, that con­sists of a list of sep­arate items rather than con­tinuous text.” Some jour­nalists, like the Uni­versity of Chicago’s Arika Okrent, support this trend in newswriting because it caters to people who want straight­forward, easy-to-follow news. It’s easy as 1, 2, 3. However, this fails to acknowledge the fact that few of life’s problems operate according to such a ready-made formula.
  4. Which over­sight gives rise to many dis­tasteful phe­nomena, including the fol­lowing:
  5. Finely tuned intel­lectual argu­ments.
  6. Insightful social com­mentary: “Remember that one time that one person was made you feel that one way, and then you made that one decision that totally changed things… Or didn’t? Relatable, amIright?”
  7. Well said. Clearly, like Donald Trump, who claims “I have the best words,” this author pos­sesses a ver­satile vocab­ulary informed by an excellent edu­cation and an intel­ligent, highly nuanced worldview, which qual­ifies her to guide your life deci­sions.
  8. “Based on your pre­vious reading, our website has gen­erated a few sug­ges­tions that will feed your soul and change your life: 10 Ways to Ensure Your Future Spouse is a Mul­ti­mil­lionaire Underwear Model who also Loves Cats!” Yes. “13 Hilarious GIFs that Show Why You Should be Just as Obsessed with Jen­nifer Lawrence as Everyone Else!” No.
  9. And yet. GIFs really do grow on you the more you watch them. Rep­e­tition is the mother of learning.
  10. The word “lis­ticle” comes from the English “list” and “article,” which in turn orig­i­nates from the Latin meaning “little joint,” according to Okrent. Ety­mo­log­i­cally, one could argue that counting these “little joints” in a lis­ticle is a simple, logical way to spread infor­mation, just like counting on your fingers helped you learn to do math. But you don’t care because you were promised celebrity GIFs.
  11. “Number 16 will crack you up!”
  12. The smashing authority added to argu­ments by your “I saw it on” *cough cough* “Buz­zfeed.” Or a more des­perate sit­u­ation: “Don’t believe me? Check out this Clickhole link.” *faked heart attack*
  13. Mar­shall McLuhan says, “The medium is the message.” Neil Postman takes this a step further; he claims, “The medium is the metaphor .” A metaphor for the lis­ticle: Let’s conduct our cul­tural dis­course with a glo­rified version of Mom’s grocery list.
  14. You didn’t get McLuhan’s message, anyway, since you spent about as much time reading the lis­ticle as you spent looking at that list on the refrig­erator. Milk and morning news: instant or skim?
  15. Number 13 makes the same point as number 5. Prin­ciples of orga­ni­zation are low on the list(icle) of pri­or­ities. For what profits a man if he orga­nizes his essay but for­feits his punchy one-liner?
  16. A pro­found image that could probably be fleshed out if this list fol­lowed the thread of a tra­di­tional argument: Wisdom as benev­olent leader, bullet-point-ridden, shedding his life’s‑blood down the pages of a million (and two! with pic­tures!) false pages of our modern forum – the internet. 10 Reasons You Should Cel­e­brate the Ides of March: “Et tu, Brute?”
  17. Despite the hype, number 16 failed to inspire tears of mirth.
  18. Read it and weep. As long as you cry cynical tears. And as long as they don’t fall on your iPhone screen, because there are cats and underwear models to read about.
  19. The lis­ticle – a del­icacy, like that warm batch of cookies, best con­sumed in mod­er­ation.
  20. I bet there’s a Buz­zfeed article about that.