1. Reading is a chore.
For most of us, reading isn’t our most enjoyable activity. We’d much rather kick back, pop open a bag of Doritos, and let our eyes pore over something visually appealing. For one thing, it’s much easier to stuff your face when you’re watching Game of Thrones than it is when you’re reading Game of Thrones.
2. They’re quick.
You can get “28 uses for Guacamole in your weekend party favor” in the 30 seconds you have before going into that dreaded 4:00pm Friday workplace environmental awareness meeting. BOOM, now you have an appetizer for Saturday’s Frisky Fiesta.
3. They’re so true.
They always hit home with exactly what you’re thinking. It’s as if you wrote this article on “14 things your cat does when you’re not home” yourself.
4. The article’s cover photo is perfect.
You had no desire what so ever to read that “19 ways to lose your hand to an alligator” article, yet you clicked on it because the cover photo was Happy Gilmore wrestling the gator that got Chubb’s hand (or it was the chick from Modern Family in her glory days with the beer steins; that would work too).
5. You love to hate them.
At your weekly happy hour venting debrief, you spew lines under your light-beer infused breath to your cohorts about how you can’t stand to see those stupid “10 ways to lose weight without exercising” articles in your newsfeed every day. Yet you find yourself justifying why it’s OK to have another chicken wing because you had hummus instead of ranch with lunch.
6. 90% of them are GIFs of Cats.
Or dogs or some other cuddly animal that got their head caught in your shoe. Face it, you can’t resist. You only wish it was your pet in that photo. Then when you get home, you start looking for ways to put your pet in hilariously awkward photogenic poses without crossing the lines of animal cruelty.
7. Your attention span is nonexistent.
This applies to 99% of the people who click on these articles. You can’t focus on real work for more than 10 minutes at a time, so you rely on quick attention fillers to stall your attention and recalibrate your focus. All of sudden you find yourself waist-deep in a “13 things Bieber said last week that made no sense” article, then you spend the next two minutes staring aimlessly at the ceiling thinking “WTF AM I DOING”. Heck, you’re probably not even reading this right now. We all know the drill. Find the bulleted numbers and read the bold print; that’s what you came here for in the first place.
8. You’re looking to confirm something you’re uncertain about.
You see a post from one of your random high-school flings that touts the “20 signs that you’re crushing Grad School” and you immediately start researching online MBA programs, even though the article’s highlights include caffeine overdose, sleep depravity, and a GIF of Lord Voldemort shooting green flares at a Microbiology Thesis paper.
9. You need to share something that describes you.
You typically write things like “Way too on point” or “This is me in a nutshell” above the link to a “17 reasons you live still with your parents” article. Great, thanks for reminding us.
10. They are easy to reference.
You share that article on the “40 ways to detox after a blackout” on your best friend’s wall and specifically reference #’s 4, 17, 18 and 25. This makes it easier for your friend to vet the pointless article for the applicable highlights. You feel accomplished for pointing out the good parts, your friend feels embarrassed because they’re true, and the rest of your social network despises you.
11. Procrastination drives your choices.
You’ve got a million things to do, haven’t started any of them, and have no desire to start. You can’t stand the people from #’s 9-10 and are constantly thinking about unsubscribing to their posts, yet you’ll do anything to procrastinate. Soon you find yourself reading an article on the “31 signs you were meant to be a registered nurse” before your meeting on quarterly financials.
12. You’re bored.
The end all, be all. After all, you don’t go seeking out this information, it just comes to you. But this is exactly why these articles exist. We got tired and bored with regular articles, so we created list articles because they require less effort in both writing and reading. Look now—we’re even writing a list article on list articles. What’s next?