The season of lists

They are common throughout the year but as December winds down and we approach Christmas, and especially as we near New Year’s Day, lists really get into high gear. They have always been hugely popular on the web, really hitting their stride back when blogs and social networking tools took hold.

What is culturally curious, however, is not the popularity of “Best of” lists but that of “Worst of” lists. I’ve no data on this but from what I see on the web and on TV, there are as many “Worst of” lists as “Best of,” and maybe even more. I’m not sure this was always the case.

When did people decide that listing what they didn’t like was so much fun?

I suppose we could blame the late Mr. Blackwell who may have been the initiator way back in 1960 with his list of worst-dressed celebrities. It doesn’t matter that much. What does matter is why has this happened? What does it say about us that we get so much glee ragging on people we don’t know?

I started thinking about this after following this link to the Village Voice and a “Top Five” post related to the season (worst Christmas songs). If I were to make my own seasonally related list it might be something like “Worst aspects of the season.” At the top would be “Worst of” lists with their tiresomely hip need to dislike anything popular and the de rigueur Celine Dion slagging,

If you have to make a list, at least make it a “Best of” list. I don’t need to know what you don’t like. It’s of no help to me. But a “Best of” list might at least point me in the direction of something good that I’d not been aware of. I might discover something worthwhile.

Just a thought.