In a recent opinion piece for the New York Times, Roger Cohen writes:
Everything seems filtered, monitored, marshaled, ameliorated, graded and app-ready — made into a kind of branded facsimile of experience for easier absorption. The thrill of the unexpected is lost.
The modern world’s tech-giddy control and facilitation makes us stupid. Awareness atrophies. Dumb gets dumber. Lists are everywhere — the five things you need to know about so-and-so; the eight essential qualities of such-and-such; the 11 delights of somewhere or other. We demand shortcuts, as if there are shortcuts to genuine experience. These lists are meaningless.
This is a very astute observation of the modern tech-centric economy in which we’re currently living. Lists are in fact quite insidious and could be regarded as the quintessential attention-thwarting shortcut one finds permeating the digital space. Listicles as they’re sometimes called (why yes, there’s a Wikipedia entry) obliterate mental focus and encourage us to read less.
There is arguably no better way to fragment audience engagement. Create a list and people will skim rather than absorb your content.