Thursday, October 31, 2013

Our Listicle-Based Future

The New Yorker:

Recently, a close friend sent me an email with the subject line “Things I’ve Noticed As I Get Older.” The 10 numbered observations ranged from the mundane … to the poignant. But with all due respect to the observational chops of my correspondent, it wasn’t so much the content of the message that impressed me as its form. It was an email in the shape of a listicle, a personal correspondence structured for … frictionless social-media sharing … I couldn’t help feeling … that I was seeing an early sign of what could be a shift in the way people communicate. In the not too distant future, all human interactions, written or otherwise, might well be conducted in the form of lists—for ease of assimilation, for catchiness, for optimal snap. I imagined myself, some decades from now, nervously perched on the papered leatherette of an examination bed, and my doctor directing her sad, humane eyes at me a moment before clearing her throat and saying, “Top 5 Signs You Probably Have Pancreatic Cancer.”