Top 3 Reasons We Love Top 10 Lists

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Trending:  Top [Insert Number Here] Things to [Do, Avoid] to Fix Your Life


I was surfing this morning, catching up on the latest meaningless must-know-now’s, and on one page I could link to these stories:

  • 10 Foods to Avoid
  • 5 Weird Reasons Your Teeth Hurt
  • 10 Home Remedies You Can Find in Your Kitchen
  • 14[!] Ways to Add Quinoa to Your Diet
  • 6 Times You Should Never Try to Be a Perfectionist
  • 3 Exercises that Reverse Aging
  • 5 Foods to Never Eat
  • 7 Worst Things You Can Do to Your Ears
  • 11 Tiny Life Changes That Will Bring You Major Bliss

I’m feeling manipulated.  Again.  Some “expert” somewhere (have you noticed how many on-line experts there are?) wrote an article listing the top 5 ways to get more links to your on-line article, and first on the list was to write your profound wisdom around a numerical list of something.  And now everyone is doing it.  Why?  Because it works.

What is it about seeing a number in a headline that makes me want to click on it?

1.  The idea that there is a discrete number of things that, if I know them, will make me better, smaller or happier is so appealing.  Really?  Only 11 tiny life changes and I’ll have Major Bliss?  Clicking and Reading Now.

2.  My teeth don’t hurt, but maybe someday they will and if one of the 5 reasons on that list will explain it, I’m clicking now.

3.  I don’t want to be the only one who didn’t know the 5 Stupid Things You Do in the Locker Room and do item 5 on the list by grabbing that beautiful, white, fluffy towel off the freshly folded pile and wiping my face with it.  Every one else has read the list and knows that the towel is INFESTED with nasty bacteria.

4.  As part of the Sesame Street-come-Letterman generation, I am obsessed with counting things.

And my list now exceeds the magic number of three.  It’s supposed to be the TOP 3 REASONS WHY, not 4.  Four is a bad number.  It’s either one too many or one too few …  back to the drawing board.

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