9 reasons not to make a top 10 list

Walker Polivka and Walker Polivka

As long as people have been comparing things, there have been lists to rank those very items. Traditionally, the main number of items to list is 10. Some people use five or three items, and that’s okay, too. But 10 has always been that magic number. To me, I think 10 is too large a number for a list. So, listed below, you’ll find my 9 reasons to prove my claim that 10 is too many.

People have short attention spans

If you’ve managed to stay with me and are still reading up to here, great job! Many people, especially those who are exposed to technology, have short attention spans. The mind works faster than we can process information. Because of that, our mind is constantly jumping around. Restraining our mind in order to make it to the end of a lengthy list isn’t always an option.

You lose sight of the purpose of the list

Oftentimes, top 10 lists say that it’s a top 10, but often, it’ll be a top 5 or a top 8. There may not be 10 great options for whatever is being ranked, so there is bound to be filler items that probably wouldn’t make the top 10 otherwise. That filler takes away from the real purpose of the top 10 list.

No one really cares

Does anybody really care which brand of processed cheese is the best for a grilled cheese sandwich? Does anybody really care if Helena, Montana has fewer cases of chicken pox than Montpelier, Vermont? The odds are probably no to both questions. People are naturally curious and will skim the list. They’ll see a few towns they know, maybe learn a new fact, get a nice chuckle, and forget all about it in 10 minutes or less.

No one is going to remember 10 things

Similar to number 3, are you really going to remember which 10 brands of fat-free sour cream are really lying about their fat totals? I highly doubt it. The mind isn’t going to retain that information if it doesn’t care.

Top 10 lists are overdone

Everyone from David Letterman to Trip Advisor has done a top 10 list in regards to something. Quit beating the proverbial dead horse and come up with something more original.

The rankings really don’t mean anything

In the grand scheme of things, do the rankings really matter? Let’s face it: you’ve seen the same top 10 list issued by two different sources and neither of them have the same 10 things in their rankings. The rankings are an arbitrary representation based off one or more people’s personal tastes or decisions. They’ll help give you a ballpark idea into what you’re looking at, but it isn’t a true top 10.

People won’t care about the reasons why something is ranked

All the supporting info I’ve listed under each section in this article is what I mean. People want to know the what when it comes to rankings. They don’t care why it was placed there. They just want to see where things finished and move on. If you’re reading this after each list item, awesome! That means you care. That, or you’re really bored.

Rankings can do more harm than good

Ranking items can also cause more harm than good in some cases. It’s great that you finished 1 or 2 on a list, but no one really cares about 8, 9, or 10. Maybe you plan your next trip around destination number 1 or buy your next toothpaste based off product 2. Number 1 doesn’t fit all. You may cause yourself more harm by going with the favorite rather than trying out other things on the list. It may work out better for you.

People won’t listen to the list rankings anyway

Similar to what I discussed in number 8, people will read the list and possibly use some insights gleaned from the list moving forward. However, that isn’t always the case. Many people rebel when they see a list that is ranking things. If they’re being told that this is good for them or that those products are bad for them, they’re going to ignore it and continue on anyway. Sort of like when kids rebel against their parents, I’m not going to let some list dictate how I’m going to live my life.

Congratulations! You’ve made it to the end of the article. You must be wondering, why is this guy bashing the concepts of list when he’s written a list in order to bash them? Excellent question. The answer is rather simple. I wrote a top 9 list to make fun of top 10 lists by making some over the top exaggerations about the concept of top 10 lists because I think lists are pointless and a waste of time. What better way to prove that than by writing another list? Not that any of this matters. You’ll forget you read this list in a few minutes anyway.

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