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Five Lists That No One Needs

We’re at that time of year again when the dearth of media companies clogging up your newsfeed run out of anything resembling original content and resort to creating lists. Is there anything valuable to these lists? No, not at all. For the most part, they contain material that is either totally irrelevant or something we could have easily discovered for ourselves.

Media companies like lists, though, because a) they generate a lot of views and anyone with a website of any kind knows that views are good; and b) they can generate additional income when the media company is listing products sold by a business partner, which is more often than not the motivating factor behind creating the list in the first place.

I don’t like all these silly lists and as I’m going through a particular newsfeed I’m finding far too many of them make absolutely no sense and/or have no bearing on any decision I am likely to make. These lists are about as irrelevant as telling me what kind of wine goes best with a moonwalk. Since I’m not planning on making a moonwalk anytime in the near future, I really don’t care what kind of wine would be appropriate.

Here are a few of the lists that are driving me particularly nuts this holiday season.

Peta’s Animal-Friendly Idioms

While this wasn’t presented as a traditional list, it’s a list and it’s one we really didn’t need. First of all, idioms are particular to a specific society and fall in and out of fashion based upon their relevance to that society. So, as we move away from being an agronomic society, animal-based idioms naturally die out on their own.

Secondly, no one likes someone else telling them what to say. That reeks of the most insidious and manipulative for of mind control. Conservative fears that a liberal “deep state” is trying to take over are fueled by nonsense like this.

Third, some of the idioms listed, such as putting all one’s eggs in one basket or “hold your horses,” are not harmful to animals. Granted, PETA doesn’t want anyone eating eggs in the first place, but whether the egg gathering is for food or preservation purposes, the advice still holds true. Don’t put them all in one basket. One could wipe out an entire endangered species that way. And holding horses becomes a bit necessary when horses are frightened. They can hurt themselves and do a considerable amount of damage if someone doesn’t intervene. Holding one’s horses is for the good of the horses. Dear PETA, I know you mean well, but this list belongs in the pile with the bovine dung.

Banned Christmas Songs

This isn’t a new list, actually. VH1 first published it back in 2015. If there weren’t many people paying attention to it then, though, they certainly are now that some radio stations have opted to actually follow the list to some degree and ban songs like Dean Martin’s “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.

Charges that the PC or Thought Police have overstepped their bounds are appropriate on this one and it’s been getting a lot of media attention this holiday season. On one hand, there is nothing more scrutinized for political correctness than the holidays. Notice, I used the word “holidays” instead of “Christmas.” Why? Because there are legitimately other holidays and to single out a specific on unnecessarily is preferential treatment. That’s the way political correctness is supposed to work.

However, in this case, those complaining are failing to look, again, at the original intent and cultural significance of the songs. Popular music doesn’t suddenly become offensive simply because someone is listening to it through a different filter than was intended. White Christmas is not racist, it’s about snow and if snow starts being any color than white and winter stops being cold, we’re all in a shit load of trouble!

Things That Suck

From the worst television shows of 2018 to the worst college football teams of 2018, December brings with it a crap-load of unnecessary lists of things that suck. If someone has a list of the best of anything, be certain that someone else has a list of the worst and, believe it or not, lists of the worst actually end up getting more attention than lists of the best. Why? Because we, as a society, enjoy kicking someone when they’re down, as long as that person isn’t us.

Does our society need anything that encourages or promotes negative behavior in any way? Of course not! Yet, that is what these list do. They encourage trolls, those silly little people who wander around the Internet making fun of things, insulting people, and otherwise creating havoc. They also bring out the worst in normal people who feel emboldened to make negative comments of their own now that some media outlet has officially started the conversation.

These inherently negative lists fail to point out that everyone on those lists did something you did not: they tried. Actors tried making those television shows work. College football teams played their hearts out every Saturday. Car designers dared to put new ideas forward. Clothing designers took the risk of trying something different. What did you do? Probably not all that much.

Gifts For People That Don’t Deserve Them

One of the aspects of the holidays that drives me nuts is the social pressure to give gifts for damn near everyone one has met or interacted with over the course of the year. Why? More often than not, we don’t know these people well so giving them any kind of gift is rather meaningless. Without any emotional exchange in the relationship, there’s no emotional attachment to the gift. Yet, we feel forced to spend hundreds, perhaps even thousands of dollars without having a clue what might actually benefit the person.

Enter the lists. There are dozens of them this time of year. Business Insider is especially full of nonsense like 35 Affordable Christmas Presents for Coworkers. Their choices include a coffee bean subscription, a coffee mug, a desk calendar, a cheap-assed “reusable” bag, and a bunch of other things that either clutters a desk because they’re afraid to throw it away or gets re-gifted to someone else who doesn’t especially want it, either. I’ve known some holiday gifts to be re-gifted as many as seven times in the same season.

Lists like this encourage behavior that, quite honestly, just needs to stop. Getting your boss a gift is a tawdry attempt to gain favor. Giving your employees a gift (that’s not a significant pay raise or bonus) is pandering. Leaving a present for your mail carrier (assuming you have a consistent carrier) gives them one more thing they have to lug around all day. Can we stop already? Let’s focus our gift giving budget on doing good, helping people in need, and not generating more landfill waste.

Best-Selling Products You Don’t Need

5 Lists No One Needs
Winter Masquerade

Looking at Business Insider again (I swear, they must have people who do nothing but make stupid lists all day), I see things like “The 23 Best New Products Release in 2018” and “11 Best-Selling Acne Products That Actually Work,” and even “11 CBD Products That Make Great Stocking Stuffers.” Delving into those lists, if you are feeling brain-dead and trying desperately to fall asleep, you’ll find things such as “Best New Candle,” “Best New Women’s Underwear,” a “$9 Clay Mask That Promises The World’s Most Powerful Facial,” and “A Device That Treats Breakouts With Light,” in addition to Hemp Infused Raw Honey and CBD oil for pets.

Does anyone actually need any of the items on any of these lists? Probably not. You’ve been living quite well without them and, with the possible exception of underwear, can probably have a very lovely new year without any of them. Nothing on any of these lists are going to dramatically alter anyone’s life one direction or another. Just because an item sells well doesn’t mean it’s worth a bag of rocks. In fact, millions of people have purchased rocks and called them pets. Where are those stones now? In someone’s driveway.

Lists like this prey on our materialism and the false notion that success is measured by how much stuff one has. They come with well-polished pictures and descriptions that are creatively enhanced to the point of near deception. We fall for the trick, buy the product, and nine times out of ten it sits and collects dust after being used only a time or two. Again, underwear would be the likely exception to that statement. Almost everyone needs to underwear. Always.

Lists That Do Some Good

5 Lists No One Needs
Mother-daughter shopping day, 2012

Not all lists are created equally horrific. There are a few out there that actually can do some good, though one doesn’t find as many of those and, sadly, they tend to not generate as many clicks and do the nonsense lists. In fact, I’m going to be very interested to see which, if any, of the links on this page are actually clicked. If you’re smart, and I assume you are or else you wouldn’t be here, you’ll click one of the lists below and ignore the ones above.

Lists can be effective tools to help us get things done, provide a sense of order and organization to our activities, and help make certain that no one is left out of an activity. There are a lot of good lists on the Internet and there’s a strong reason for their popularity.

No one needs the nonsense lists like those we’ve mentioned here, though. We can do better. Not only can we stop clicking on those lists, we can stop buying into whatever it is they’re selling. We can walk away and do something better with our time and our money.

This is how we improve the world, people. One little thing at a time.


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