Bushwhacked: Love of lists goes way back

YOU have to love a good list: 100 best cute kitten pictures, 12 best eyebrow shapes, 32 reasons not to look at this list.

People think this is an internet phenomenon. It isn’t. Years and years ago, back in the Dark Ages before digital everything, my favourite book was The Book of Lists by Irving and Amy Wallace.

It was a fat volume and after many years was much thumbed and dog-eared. Perhaps one of the 10 most dog-eared books on my bookshelf. Heh heh. So, the public love of lists has been around for years.

But this week has been a red-letter week for list lovers. Probably among the top five list-saturated weeks this year.

Melbourne was named by Conde Naste Traveller magazine as the friendliest capital city on the planet.

Which was mildly interesting if only for the reason that it got up Sydney’s fifth most friendly nose quite a bit. Which, when you think about it, proves the point.

French cities including Marseilles and Paris were cellar dwellers, with Johannesburg the least friendly. Oddly, though, Melbourne was also this week nominated as having people most likely to moan and whinge about anything.

That didn’t surprise me.

There have been studies which show that wealthy, successful communities often have higher levels of, for example, self-harm, depression and bad social behaviour. The argument goes that if you live in an affluent neighbourhood, but don’t have a job, your girlfriend just dumped you and you’ve got zits, it will seem life has been doubly cruel.

But, if you lived in Syria and experienced the same misfortune, you’d shrug it off as the norm and be happy that at least you have a new rock to play with.

I’ve often wondered, though, if you could modify your level of satisfaction by intentionally living in a crappy place.

It could make a big promotional hit for places such as Marseilles: “Want to cheer yourself up? Come to Marseilles and get robbed and bashed weekly. Marseilles, where every day brings a genuine reason to be cheesed off.”

I’ll put that on the Bucket List of 257,525 things I intend not to do before I die.

There’s now a website devoted entirely to lists. Listverse.com has lists including 10 most important events in the US, top 10 most evil human experiments,  10 different views on the meaning of life, 10 things you need to remember about memory, 10 places you might never see before they disappear and (my favourite) 10 murderously dysfunctional families. That last one is a good read if the kids have just ruined your day.

I was indifferent to the 10 strangest facts about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Only 10, I thought?


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