Thursday, April 10, 2014

5 Reasons You're Going to Read This Article

I wrote this as a pitch for a different blog site but decided to post it here. I hope it makes someone laugh :)

Yesterday, after reading my third list in a row, but before doing anything even marginally important, it dawned on me that I have been entirely ignoring any and all online articles that aren't in list form. I asked myself "why?" To which I answered myself – wouldn’t you know it? – with a list. Lucky for you I am a licensed scribe, or "scrivener,"* because me talks fast! Submitted for your approval is a list of five reasons, the only five reasons, humans are 67% more likely to read an article in list form. The aforementioned statistic was reached by arbitrarily choosing a convincing, but not too convincing percentage.

   *meaning "scribe"

1) Attention Defisomething...
Let's face it, the attention span of the average American is shorter than Mini-Me would have been had Dr. Evil been portrayed by Hervé Villechaize (Mike Meyers, 5' 8" - Vern Troyer, 2' 8" - Hervé Villechaize, 3' 11" - Fictitious Mini-Me to Hervé's Dr. Evil, a Gummy Bear). Our brains have been conditioned to reject anything with a time investment any longer than it takes to microwave a Pop Tart. Mmmmmm Pop Tarts. My favorite is the S'mores one. So good, right? 

Where was I? Ah yes, lists have a calming effect on our impatient minds because we are told from the very start exactly how many points we must endure before we can commence wasting time some other way. For my wife it's Candy Crush Saga. What the what is it with that stinkin’ game? It's like Tetris, right? But like with candy, and crushing... and saga... Personally I'd rather watch my nose hairs grow, and that would be pretty ridiculous because I'd have to use like two mirrors, like those one's dentists have, and where would I even get them?

2) Structure
Homo sapiens sapiens (yes, there really are two freakin' 'sapiens' - I don't know, ask a scientist) crave structure from the very depths of our tarry black souls. Even if we appear to loathe it on the surface, deep, deep down inside every sloppy, flip-flop-wearing earth-dweller there skulks, like an intangible, less schizophrenic, much less attractive Gollum, the desire for order - Structure is our Precious - Lists provide that structure. When the exact same information could be presented, and subsequently ignored, without the bullet points or numbers, lists get the job done right. Kind of like the A-Team. No, exactly like the A-Team.

So, what you're telling me is that I'm like some glorious chimera with the street smarts and dazzling good looks of Faceman, the tactical and strategic brilliance of Hannibal, the brute force and bling-consciousness of B.A. and the.... eccentricity and piloting skills of Murdock? I'll take it! And I'll be driving that sweet van too. You know that's right, foo.

3) Something About How Sexy Numbers Are
Some numbers are sexier than others, and others are less sexy than some. For instance pi is much sexier than a million, but nowhere near as sexy as a sextillion (sex is in the name, for Einstein's sake!).

4) Believability
When someone just writes an article telling me to do this or that to improve something or some other thing about my life or whatever, I try to find that guy and punch him in his smug, butterface (am I using that term correctly? I don't think I am) for trying to tell me how to live my life, when he clearly doesn't even know enough about our species to understand that we need to have our friggin' information spoon fed into our hearing hole thingies in list form, dagnabbit! But when that same dude structures (see point 2) that same information into a list and adds some humor he might as well have a bunch of letters after his name and smell like I imagine Jennifer Lawrence smells (ice cream, she smells like ice cream) because he's got me eating out of his hand, as if his hand were filled with creamy, delicious ice cream. A list says, "Hey, follow me and everything will be alright, and to prove it... I'm a list!”

Lists imply that someone, somewhere has followed the same steps and has been successful, or that some substantial time and effort has been invested into research (whatever that is) to show that, for instance, there are exactly five reasons why people are more likely to read an article if it is in list form. In reality, though, most lists are ascribed arbitrary numbers and then someone tries to think of that many things and sometimes they can't but they just go with that number anyway because it's sexy (see point 3), so they half-donkey it and make the reader think of a point him/herself. That's why you see so many 10's, 5's, and 3's. 

Personally, I feel bad for the numbers 2, 4, 6, 7, 8, and 9, because when do you ever see a list of 4 reasons to shave your best friend's armpits or 9 habits to avoid while shoplifting at Walmart? But really, there's one number that's the most miserable of all numbers. The unsexiest number in every way. It's the true loneliest number. Not number 1, silly. That's just a song. Do you believe everything songwriters say? No, it's the number 66. It's not quite evil enough for the devil-worshipers and it's just a bit too evil for everyone else. No one and I mean no one likes the number 66. That whole section should probably have been moved to point 3, but copying and pasting is hard. Which brings us to...

5) A Fifth Thing
This point is for introspection. It's not because I couldn't think of a believable fifth thing. Scout's honor*. Look within, friend, and you will find the truth about the fifth point. Whatever reason you had for reading this article, ya know, the one I didn't cover in points one through four, that is the fifth point.

   *I am required by law to inform you that I am not, nor have I ever been a scout of any kind.

There you have it, folks - a list of five reasons you are reading this list of reasons about why you are reading this list of... By the beard of Zeus, that's a brain-meltingly confusing shtick! Now you can go play fat-making, cavity-inducing Tetris. 

Note from the author - please do not confuse my meanings in a couple of places. I recognize that some of the content may seem to have a meaning I did not intend. These are:
1) The Jennifer Lawrence reference was not meant in a lustful tone. I wondered who might smell like ice cream for this bit, so I Googled and waded through probably over 100 pictures of celebrities eating ice cream before settling on Katniss. Other top contenders: Justin Bieber, president Obama, and the beautiful Jack Black. Jennifer is just sloppy enough of an eater than I figured she would be a safe choice. 
2) The sexiness of numbers. Obviously I am not sexually attracted to numbers, so I don't know why anyone would have a problem here, but for the sake of those who do, compare numbers to cars and other inanimate objects that are regularly described as "sexy." See, no problem!

This article first appeared at the view from here but was deemed too different and exiled to the Fringe!

No comments:

Post a Comment