Product design VP @ Facebook. Self-professed tyro and lover of food, games, words. Follow me as @joulee or on www.juliezhuo.com
Jul 12, 20132 min read
10 Reasons Why People Love Numbered Lists
You can’t fathom how there could possibly be 10 reasons to love a numbered list. You must know what all 10 of those reasons are.
Whatever this article is about, at least it won’t be tl;dr.
There is archeological evidence suggesting that humans have been counting for at least 50,000 years. You see, back then, the people who could count were more likely to survive, as they could better keep track of how many people died after that woolly mammoth hunt. Also, how many woolly mammoths they’d have to hunt to subsist the winter. (Also, how many days winter lasted.) All this is to say that counting is an important skill that humans are naturally and evolutionarily predisposed towards.
Even if a couple of the reasons don’t resonate with you, there’s a good chance you’ll find a few that will. Which is good, because all you ever wanted was to feel understood.
Somewhere deep within our psyche, our subconscious aesthetic preference for lightness leads us to favor the list format (with its generosity of white space) over other denser, weightier formats.
Anything numbered feels well-researched, well-ranked and official (even though the author eked out this article half-drunk at 2am because she was unable to compose anything more substantial than a link-baiting, journalism-killing sort of piece to wheedle clicks from your grubby little hands.)
Lists evokes a nostalgic time when you used to enumerate for your best friend the 10 People of the Opposite Gender Whose Well-Defined _______ Makes Me Swoon with a well-sharpened, Number #2 pencil on a college-ruled notebook.
Expectations are clear. I mean, you know exactly what you’re getting. It won’t be 1 reason. It won’t be 7. (Though it might be 2, if you’re that sort of person.)
You are that sort of person, and you kind of expected this to be a too-clever-for-its-own-good nerd joke. (Alas, now you’re grossly disappointed it’s not.)
By reaching this final number, you feel a baffling yet undeniable sense of accomplishment.