What’s up with all these lists???

Dear reader,

as you are reading this, I would like to let you know that you were just saved from a very boring blog post by yours truly – me! Lucky for you,, I caught myself right in the act of committing what I believe to be one of the worst blogging faux pas EVER: writing a top-x list. (Something, I am ashamed to admit, has happened before!)

I wanted to write something about the things that have caught my attention in the past two weeks in Germany. Which is still a great topic, as I can assure you veeeery objectively, but while I was thinking how EXACTLY to tell you about all my recent mishaps, it crept up on me from behind, unnoticed, sneaky and treacherous until it almost made it into my blog post: the infamous top-x list!

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I detest this list. In blogging. In journalism, and especially entertainment writing, it has been around forever and I am a big fan: “Miley Cyrus’ 5 most revealing outfits”, “The top 10 action movies”, and of course, the “Forbes 100” lists. These lists are fun to read, you might find some new movies you want to watch, and who doesn’t want to know more about the 100 most influential people on this planet?! Top-x lists are not only entertaining, they are also very powerful political tools: The 5 richest countries in the world, the 5 poorest countries in the world, the countries with the smartest students, the most obese countries, and so on. As limited as these studies may be, they still give you a certain insight into a country’s social and political framework, and sometimes these lists even lead to political change. I really don’t mind these lists. But in blogging, I have a problem with the top-x lists. Mainly, because instead of being personal hit-lists, they have become a big, empty blah.

First off, I don’t want to read a list of 5 cocktails in Brazil. I want to read about the drinks YOU liked and why! I want to read ABOUT these cocktails, about the bar tenders that mixed them, the exotic fruits in them or why that particular cocktail made the night so special. I want to read a story! And I am getting a feeling, bloggers who draw excessively on top-x lists to fill blog post after blog post with them, they leave out the stories. Are they too lazy to tell them? Are their blogs sponsored by a liquor company? Do they have to write so many blog posts that they just run out of time/energy/ideas that the best they can come up with is a meaningless list? Please note, I don’t mind a list every now and then, as a change in paste and style. But I have noticed the increasing trend in travel blogging to post these lists that are nothing more but empty words on a screen, and it’s gotten to a point where I just refuse to read blog posts that start with “The top 10 beaches in the Caribbean” or “The 15 top adventures in Southeast Asia”. I don’t even believe in what the authors of these lists tell me any more. They sound too much like sponsored posts or something that has been put together by 10 different writers to give the reader the impression the blogger is the most amazing traveler in the world – it’s simply not authentic any more.

One of the many reasons why people are fascinated by traveling are the stories. Stories, not lists! The story about the one time you met this old jazz singer in a bar in Prague, the story about how you had a horrible infection but decided to hike up a 4k anyway and REALLY regretted it, the story about how you and your travel buddy got into this huge fight over buying tomatoes. I want to read funny stories, sad stories, wild stories, stories that have gone horribly wrong – in other words: I want to read about your real stories. I really don’t want to read a manicured story straight out of a marketing brochure about your always perfect trips, about the most amazing adventures that you have permanently, and most of all: I don’t want to read your fake top-x lists any more!!! Get back to telling real stories!

As far as we are concerned, you and me, dear reader, I promise from now on to stay away from the top-x lists and just give you the real deal: my stories.

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