Saturday, 27 October 2012

Why We Love a List.

I, myself am a self-confessed, obsessive list-maker. But what is it about lists that we love? I look along the magazine shelf and nearly all the covers use them: 'Top Ten Buys' '5 ways to lose weight' etc. On magazine covers, The 'most wanted' list, shopping lists, Schindler's list, bucket list, friends list, to-do lists, MTV top 40 and wish lists.  Lists are everywhere. Is it the use of order and organization it creates or the control over our lives that makes people write a list.

When I write a list I feel a weight suddenly lifted from my shoulders, like as if my chaotic life has suddenly become clearer. Similar to disorders such as anorexia, could writing a list be a way of dealing with a lack of control we feel we have with in our day-to-day lives? Stress is amplified when something negative and unplanned occurs as it creates disorder and as we know, people like routine. Writing a list gives a clear plan for our day, a routine, making it easier to cope with hassles because we know what is happening next creating less confusion and keeping our day calm...

Writing a list clears our minds of smaller worries such as forgetting things we have to do and also makes us able to establish which tasks are more important and need to be done first. Also, like maths, it is easier to see what needs to be done and when and how we need to do it if it is written down instead of retained in our mind along with the confusion of other thoughts, emotions and mental processes; just like how subtracting or dividing is easier when written down than when solved mentally.

If everyone likes order, then is everyone a little autistic? How do we separate social norms such as writing a list to being obsessive such as following a day exactly in the order written with time frames, leading your life by a time table.... And finally, who is to say we what is socially normal? Maybe in years to come writing a list may be abnormal and living life in chaos normal because 'you only live once'. Who knows.

Love O

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