The 3 Reasons I Still Write Listicle Posts Despite THE INSANE Number of Haters
Boy, oh boy — my first ‘angry’ post.
1. They get opened.
This isn’t new, people.
Let’s be clear; the best-selling authors aren’t the best authors, they’re the best-selling authors.
You have a choice when you see the headline. Either you’re opening it to get something out of it, or you’re opening it to criticize. Be really clear with yourself about which it is.
If you’re already primed to spread negativity and unhelpful criticism, please be the bigger person and just change the channel.
If you’re looking to help, then be helpful and positive.
2. Most people don’t actually want to read.
Do you know what the average reading level is? I do.
Most adults in the U.S. read at a 7th-grade reading level. (citation)
Why do I know this? Because I’m writing for people.
I’m writing to deliver healthy thoughts, valid information, and useful resources to people without an elite education.
I’m writing to make information accessible.
I left my job managing a Neuroscience lab at Penn State because I was producing ‘content’ that had 2 major barriers:
- There is a financial barrier because no one wants to pay $40 for a single article in a publication.
- There is an intellectual barrier. Only readers who were already experts in the field could understand the language in the article.
It’s evident by the “self-help” book industry that people want to get to the bottom of their problems. Yet, there is no reliable source of good information that speaks to normal people.
More importantly, most people don’t want to read elitist condescension. Most people want to have their experiences and emotions validated in a language with which they’re comfortable. It’s only after this happens, that people are ready to learn. (This is not opinion or observation, it’s based on Vygotsky’s model of proximal development. Look it up if you want to dig deeper.)
This is NOT the same as dumbing down concepts, lessons, or literature.
This is making an intentional choice to meet people where they are. It’s an intentional choice to communicate points as quickly as possible without losing emotional impact.
3. Vulnerability is the only way to make change
It’s easy to be “the critic.”
It’s easy to slam writers who aren’t performing at some undefined, impeccable standard. It’s hard to write what you think, know it’s not brilliant, and publish it anyway because you think it might help someone.
It’s hard to quiet the voices of “the critic” in our own heads, let alone the voices of all the critics in the comments.
It’s hard to be your imperfect, best self in front of everyone. You’re knowingly opening yourself up to unlimited scrutiny and sometimes aggressive or hateful intention.
There’s a term we use in the industry for people who righteously seek to criticize others, but don’t actually make the world any better.
They’re called; haters.
I’m pretty sure Roosevelt said it best in his “Citizenship In A Republic” speech delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on April 23rd, 1910:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
— Theodore Roosevelt
My eternal commitment to my readers:
I promise to work my best, even if it’s easier to write garbage.
I promise to constantly evolve, even if it’s easier to stay the same.
I promise to listen to what you have to say, even if it’s easier to just wait for my turn to talk.
I promise to be the man in the arena and fail in front of everyone, even if it means I’ll only help a few people.
I promise to use listicles for good, even though it’s easier to just post pictures of Donald Trump’s hair.
Thanks for reading.
If you agree that we can use listicles for good, let me know in the comments. (Or start a conversation with me on twitter @theCountDanilo). If you don’t agree, let me know why you don’t. 😁
(But keep in mind, I just got you to read a post about the value of vulnerability, by using a listicle hook.)