Today a Facebook friend posted that her new least favorite word is listicle. Do you know this word? I did not until I Googled it and learned that (I quote and or paraphrase Wikipedia) listicle, in journalism and blogging, is a short-form of writing that uses list as its thematic structure, but is fleshed with sufficient copy to be published as an article. A typical listicle will prominently feature a cardinal number in its title, such as “10 Ways to Warm Up Your Bedroom in Winter,” “The 5 Most Badass Presidents of All-Time,” or “25 Hairstyles of the Last Hundred Years,” with subsequent subheadings within the text itself reflecting this schema. The word listicle is a portmanteau derived from list and article. Ack! Another word I don’t know! What is a Portmanteau? This one Facebook post took me on an unplanned research journey today. A portmanteau are two words and sounds morphed into one word, for example, smoke + fog = smog; motor + hotel = motel. Electric Company didn’t teach me portmanteaux and Schoolhouse Rock only ventured as far as compound words. Praise be for Wikipedia, social media and the internet!
We all know these articles called listicles, the internet and magazines are filled with them but did you know they had a name? Did you know they were listicles? I’m not sure why my friend finds this word as her new least favorite. The word doesn’t offend me as I often get suckered into reading listicles by their title alone and, ultimately, enjoy reading listicles. Though I don’t mind the word listicle, yet, for reading material, listicles lack depth and fail to deliver more than their title implies. As a blogger, I should be more listicle saavy, alas I am not.
On Monday this week, I received a work email inquiring about potential opportunities at the company. Nothing unusual, as a recruiter, this email is typical fodder for my day. What was unusual was the email was written and sent from Kathmandu, Nepal, at base camp, while the author prepared to climb Mount Everest. This was an exciting an motivating start to my week, how exciting! Tonight, as I sit here and contemplate listicles, I wonder what the hell am I doing with my life? Here I am, blogging nonsensically about randomness and I have to question why. Knowing my friend, I may have touched on why she doesn’t care for the word listicle. Maybe The Secret Life of Walter Mitty that’s playing in the background is seeping into my pores and challenging me to bust out of my comfort zone.
Perhaps I need to write a listicle on “10 Ways To Be More Adventurous”, “Top 5 Heart Desires”, “Journal Instead of Blogging – 3 Reasons Why”, or “Find Out 20 Things You Should Be Doing To Capture the Quintessence of Life” (ok, that has strong Walter Mitty influence). I could listicle on listicles. I could wax poetic or bust a rhyme on listicle, but the only words I can think of that rhyme with listicle is article (duh), popsicle, bicycle (uni and tri varieties as well), icicle and testicle. At least, these are the first words that entered my brain, let’s not analyze what that means.
I’ve written listicle eighteen times and the word is beginning to grow on me yet, as a writing style, needs an adventure as muse.