Wednesday, February 04, 2009

1. 2. 3. 4.

I think I've become obsessed with lists. I'm trying to trace the origin of this obsession back to the beginning. When did this seed get planted in my brain? I think I can safely blame my creative writing class last semester. We did a lot of lists. I do know why, but don't feel like explaining it. As a writing exercise for that class, we made our own lists, so I guess that started the ball rolling in my brain.

The subconscious idea of making lists of things was fed by some of the silly websites I look at occasionally. Cracked seems like the obvious contributor to a list obsession, but I think it's been nurtured more by Found Magazine and Post Secret. Not because those sites are particularly list oriented, but because their content reduces a person's story down to something simple, like a postcard or a list.

I adore the idea of that kind of reduction - that concentration of an event or a story into something so concise. I think it makes the story more interesting to leave out more of the details. I love finding to-do lists, either left in library books or posted on Found, and trying to figure out what is going on with the person who made the list. They're even more fun if there is something completely random on that list.

So I have played around a little with fitting life into lists. It's an interesting exercise. With a list you just get a tiny snapshot of something, and if you do it right, that little piece tells a great deal about the whole. Or it leaves a lot up to speculation and makes it more interesting than it actually is. For example (and this is a repeat if you read my twitter... arggg twitter):
Last Sunday Activities:
Harem Pants
That list is a log more fun than my actual day. I went to my parent's house to do laundry, made cheesecake for a dinner party with my belly dance friends, watched a little Superbowl, then went to a dinner party with my belly dance friends (we were going to make harem pants, but never got around to it. We talked about them a lot though). It's more interesting as a simple list because all four items seems completely unrelated. The story becomes more intriguing when you have to fill in the blanks to make it all fit together.

To be fair, I am not the only one obsessed with lists. The internet is too. If you've spent any time online in the last week or so, you may have noticed the list that Ivan (which is what I, along with friends, Jake and Vanessa, named the internet. His full name is Ivanovich Malcolm Gore, just so you know) is obsessed with. Tell me if this rings a bell: "25 random things about me."

This viral phenomenon has taken over facebook and a few blogs. I haven't seen it in e-mail yet, but not many of my friend use e-mail anymore. I haven't done it yet. Not because I think the list itself is not worth doing, but I don't like the viral spreading process. It annoys me when you tell me that I have to do something like pass on a stupid letter/note/post/whatever. I am not the only one who steadfastly refuses to do it, but we holding-outers are few and far between.

There was even an article about it in the NY Times. It's a very interesting article, and it started me thinking about it a little. It's a very interesting article. Go read it. I'll wait.

This is one of my favorite parts:
For most, it seems to be a creative way to indulge in social networking without coming off as needy or shamelessly self-absorbed.
That makes me giggle. How does that not seem self-absorbed? Can someone explain that to me?

The part that talks about it as a writing exercise is really interesting to me though. And I do admit that I have read several lists and found them very fascinating. It is indeed interesting to see "what people reveal when there isn't a particular requirement." I'm thinking of making my own list, just as an exercise for myself. I may even do 100, which the article mentions was probably the original game. Actually, if I do 100 random things about me, I might post it here. After all, I am shamelessly self-absorbed and like to show that off here on my little blog thing.

Don't worry, if I do decide to post a list of my own, I wont require anyone else to make their own.


Shani said...

I think the fact that you're supposed to 'tag' another dozen-or-so friends for the 25 Things is intended to save us from self-absorption. Or at least balance it out with other-absorption.

Not that I haven't enjoyed reading other people's lists, but I like this variant better.

Cassie the Great said...

I like it! I don't think I can resist. I am doing it now!