[text_image img="https://8list.com.ph/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/8-Reasons-Why-I-Hate-Lists-TITLE.jpg" width="100%" type="title"][list_title][/text_image] [buffer by="15px"] [dropcap letter="P"]eople like to start and end their year with lists—this writer included. In my case, the year begins with an ambitious and audacious bullet-pointed rundown of the shit I need to get done to justify another segment of living existence, ranging from the mundane (such as "get this list done", obviously) to the big and vague ("be more social" and "set fire to the world"). Of course, two weeks later, that annual landmark is abandoned and superseded by the various minutiae that constitute the catching up that characterizes the rest of my time on earth.
At the end of every year, I like to grow big again and attempt to do a summing up of friends and family by putting together a Christmas list that looks really good on an Excel sheet but pretty much goes into the shredder by the time I find myself looking at a really great pair of shoes. After all, I deserve it and everyone on that list deserves it, down to the last aunt who never really thought good things about me anyway. Oh, don't blame me or other people for that—after all, we're just a victim of our genes, which if you look closely, are to-do lists themselves. Blame it, then, on the list— [/buffer]
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It has been causing trouble since the beginning.
9,000 years ago, hunter-gatherer societies became permanent agrarian communities, and among the first things they needed to do was to make a list of the surplus goods their new way of life generated. This was one of the reasons why they needed to invent writing. Since then, religions have been invented, wars have been waged, and entire nations subjugated, all on the basis of lists. There were the Ten Commandments, Martin Luther King's list of grievances, the lists of things France demanded from Germany, and the list of imported brands we love to patronize. And in the quiet times between, lists have kept us occupied, making sure we've checked all the boxes and allowing us the conception that we have kept things under our mental control. All evidence points to the probability that 9,000 years from now, we will still be making lists—and probably nothing much else.
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Because lists make people stupid.
I know a lot of people, myself included, who have stopped reading long paragraphs because the Internet just loves to hand out ideas prepackaged into discrete list articles that require no more than a few moments to read. I also heard that there are entire websites devoted to it! Just imagine if the stuff we read as kids were all numbered and bullet-pointed into easily digestible bits of text, and that we could actually generate a list of lists to read based on how many people liked to read them so we don't have to waste time reading unpopular things. And imagine if reading lists actually made us feel well read and well informed. Oh shit.
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Because lists do have a way of making people feel accomplished
—whether they're checking them, making them or simply reading them. I just love it when I look over someone's shoulder and I see a big hairy list of checked or struck-through items because I know that person knows how it is to feel powerful and immortal—even for a moment. Until the next list comes along, of course, and we're all rats in a cage again. Still, I had a huge obsession with stuff like GTD, 43 Folders, 1-3-5, the Autofocus System… I could write a whole list about that and feel accomplished about it, too.
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In other words, lists make people crazy.
When I was seven or eight I liked to make lists of things I did behind my parents' back while they were out of the house. When they got back I would read the list to them: "I borrowed your keys," "I opened your closet," "I watched Merle Fernandez on that Betamax tape I found in your closet all afternoon instead of taking a nap because I had a boner," etc., etc., ad nauseum—literally. Years later, I would revive this horrible habit by confessing things to a person who was not an actual parent. I have to say that it did make me feel accomplished, but not as much as Merle Fernandez did.
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I remember the above because lists are forever.
The thing about to-do lists is that besides being an indelible proof of things you've done or set out to do, they're also an incredibly stupid proof of causality, futility and eternal return. To-do lists will beget to-do lists, there will always be something you will never get to do, and the things you never get to do will always be there, undone, because each list carries the seed of its own undoing. And if you ever, during a particularly clever or stupid moment your childhood, wrote a to-do list that started with "check to-do list", then you created an infinite loop that will never stop, ever. The world as we know it will have ended and a highly evolved thought-form will read your list and initiate a self-gratifying loop worse than Merle Fernandez ever could.
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Lists make everything seem simpler and more sensible than they really are.
A list of friends really is a poor way to chart the wild and unruly relationship we have with the world, just as much as a JPEG really is a lousy and lossy list of colors and the frequency and positions in which they appear in a photo. Before anyone thinks that's a great romantic image of how people come together—people who are themselves made up by lists of codes for proteins and enzymes—imagine a JPEG of your worst frenemy, butt-naked, doing squats on your dining room table.
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Still, numbered lists behoove people to uselessly complete them.
There are supposed to be eight items on this list but I can't for the life of me muster enough concentration to think of an eighth. Because there's life to live and things to do and people to see. There's the Bucket List, the 25 Top Places to Eat, the Three Things a Man Must Do in His Lifetime, and the 1001 Places to See Before I Die, and I can't think of two or three things to say to refute them.
What do you think of lists? Love them or hate them? Share in the Comments Section below.