Yeah, that’s basically it
Now, when you feel disappointed enough that you won’t get your cheap dopamine dose right away, feel free to skip this text and jump right into your Instagram feed, Medium daily recommendations, or yet another way of getting another chunk of useless, but structured for easy consumption information.
It’s not cool to be bored these days. It’s also not cool to be doing nothing for a measurable amount of time. Every minute you are doing nothing is a potential waste of getting a like or consuming a new short piece of info that someone produced right now. And now. And a million times since you started reading this.
Also, there is your phone. It has notifications, right? And those sounds (or just buzz) and text popups. They make you feel so... alive? You feel needed, you feel important. You know that you ARE NOT MISSING OUT. Because something important is happening right now. And now. And a million times since you started reading this.
Why bother participating in the face-to-face conversation for a long-long hour, looking at the same face all the time, going deeper and deeper into a specific topic, if you can check how one of your endless group chats is doing every 15 seconds?
That’s how our dopamine-hungry brains got enslaved in the last few decades. If you were able to read this without being distracted or distracting yourself one way or another - great job, you might still be sane for the next few years at least, until we start getting ad popups in our AR glasses every minute.
The reason why articles in the form of “Top X things every Y should do” exist is exactly the same and it works on absolutely same principles as modern generic social media and gadgets.
- It’s easily producible content. Because you can basically toss any X random facts about Y and you’re pretty much good to go. Any order, and quality. What matters is how you structure it so that you can insert more ads for a better conversion rate.
- It’s easily consumable content. Because it’s structured in the form of a list, and due to the way people consume information online, the majority will read only bold part of the text, to get an overview of your “top”. Anything else can be easily left out. As a reader, you will get your illusion that you now know additional “X things” about the topic, get your dopamine injection, and move on. This is especially true for longer texts or paragraphs. As a content producer, you don’t really have to work hard to fill this with anything useful or insightful. Just write some random text as I do now, who cares. Also, if you actually took your time to read this fully, you deserve a cookie. Go and grab one! The only important thing is that you have to make a proper ending for the section to make it sound smart.
- It attracts more page views. A lot of media earn money from ads. Since our brains already know that this will be easy to consume info that will actually make us feel good in seconds, we most probably at least skim it, especially if “Y” is a topic that we are interested in. In the end, it’s not about sharing something useful in most cases, but in producing more page views. It becomes even more obvious when these lists are scattered between multiple pages, which is a pretty popular format for media-based tops.
Sooner or later, anyone who wants to keep sanity in the current state of modern technology silences their notifications on their phone for the majority of apps (you won’t miss them at all), narrows down the number of information sources and regularity of getting updates (weekly digests will do just fine), and stops reading yet another “Top 10 things every human being should be doing”.
Today might be the day you read the last one named this way.