There are a thousand ways to waste time on the internet, but there can’t be a bigger time suck than “the list.” You know, those “well-researched” space fillers on free sites that enrich our lives with things like “The 10 best cars for people who like ice cream and believe in astrology,” or “The 15 worst foods for people living in Duluth, Minnesota.”
Until last week I’d never really thought too much about web lists, but two things came to my attention that have made me vow to never read another list. First, the letter from the publisher in this month’s Harper’s magazine was a well-thought-out defense of the magazine’s continued policy of not giving their content away on the internet. He makes the point that “good publishing, good editing and good writing cost money.” He laments the way “content” has replaced prose and poetry. And one of the biggest offenders is the list that pretends to be an article.
This point was really driven home when I came across an interesting sounding list, “50 Dresses that Changed Fashion.” It’s not to be confused with a book of a similar name, 50 Dresses that Changed the World, though it does look as if there is quite a bit of over-lap. Sorry, I couldn’t bring myself to link to the list, but you can google the title and find it, if you must.
There are some dresses on the list that one really can’t quibble with, like Chanel’s Little Black Dress, Diane Von Furstenberg’s jersey wrap dress, and Princess Diana’s wedding dress. But please, someone explain to me how Lady Gaga’s meat dress changed fashion. Why is Angelina Jolie’s “leg dress” on this list, and how did that dress change fashion? Also quite puzzling are a 2006 LED dress by Hussein Chalayan, Rudi Gernreich’s topless dress (yep, I wear them all the time), Victoria Beckham’s first collection of 2008, and Mary Katrantzou’s 2011 ‘Room’ collection.
And it is important to say that there was no mention of Dior and the New Look, Christian LaCroix and his poof skirt, or Poiret’s corsetless silhouette. Where is Chanel’s suit, and Yves Saint Laurent’s safari dress?
But lesson learned. I’ll no longer listen to any lists. The next time I’m tempted by “10 foods that will help you live to be 150,” I’ll go get myself a cookie instead of reading.
Edited because I forgot to insert my image, which, by the way, has little to do with the list in question, but it does point out how dumb lists can be.