In praise of the listicle [March 21]
My favourite new word is ‘listicle’. A blend of list and article, a listicle orders the world for us into neat numbers: ‘Five songs to sing in the shower’ or ‘Ten places to see before you die’. According to the New Yorker magazine, listicles are ‘the signature form of our time’. So in an effort to sound young and hip, I offer you my latest listicle:
Three reasons I know I’m getting old.
1) I finally understand what the term ‘bone tired’ means. When I wake in the morning my bones feel like they’ve been out partying HARD while the rest of my body has been sleeping soundly. Walking downstairs for my morning coffee I hang onto the railing like an elderly on an escalator. While my brain is happy to be up before eight, my tired bones would rather sleep in till midday. Every now and then my tired bones are scanned by an expensive machine. The medicos shake their heads and declare ‘wear and tear’. If my bones were tires they’d be un-roadworthy. I’m bone tired.
2) When I hear young people speaking they sound more American than Australian. I recall my grandfather complaining about this forty years ago. I also remember hearing Australian voices on the radio back then and thinking they sounded English. The Australian accent is constantly changing and how we speak dates us. No doubt when young people hear me on the radio my voice sounds quaint to them, a relic of the past.
3) When I open the folder that stores the recipes I’ve written down over the years, slips of brown paper fall out. Chemical analysis could tell us exactly which meals produced the food stains on those pieces of paper. But the fact that I originally wrote those recipes on white paper gives us all the information we need.
My grandmother wrote a lot of lists because she couldn’t remember things. Her house was littered with pieces of paper in varying shades of white through to brown, all covered with neat lists of work to be done, bills to be paid, recipes to be tried.
Maybe the listicle is ‘the signature form of our time’ because we can’t remember anything any more. A flood of digital information is drowning our memories, ageing us prematurely, and forcing us to resort to lists just to get through the day.
Now – what was this listicle about again?
(This column was first published in the Sydney Morning Herald, March 2017)