List Ludicrosity

Besides the incorrect use of apostrophes, this one is annoying for its blatantly false opening statement, and then the contradictory concluding question.

Recently I posted Quiz Quackery, a pet peeve (OK, maybe it was more of a rant) about quizzes on the internet that use deceptive come-on lines to manipulate readers into clicking on them.

In keeping with the theme of misleading, manipulative, and downright stupid online material, what about all the articles or memes that try to shame readers, based on owning perfectly normal objects that the writer has decided are unattractive or superfluous?

These have headlines like, “Nobody Has These 12 Things In Their Homes Anymore,” with a list of common items many of us do, indeed, have in our homes (CDs, DVDs, file cabinets, paper calendars….) That’s bad enough, but some such lists actually end with something like this: “Share if you have at least 6 of them.” If the headline is true, then the “share” line is useless. If we have six of the items and therefore can share it, doesn’t that disprove the headline? Either nobody does, or somebody does. You can’t have it both ways. So why is this being posted at all?

Who starts these things? I assume they’re really about getting people to click on a link, which brings in more revenue for the jerks who put them online in the first place.

Some are particularly judgmental. “20 Things No Woman Over Forty Should Have in her Closet” manages all at once to be inaccurate, sexist, ageist, condescending, and just generally stupid, since there is nothing wrong with a woman of any age having whatever the hell she wants in her closet. I have never once seen something like this aimed at men.

Others make sweeping generalizations under the guise of helping you to organize your home. An article might be called something like, “30 Kitchen Gadgets To Get Rid of Right Now.” It will list various appliances and other devices, telling you in no uncertain terms that you’re wasting space and complicating your life if you own these gadgets, and therefore should throw them out now. Some are common, practical items like blenders or potato peelers, with explanations given that don’t really make sense. And there is seldom any consideration for objects you might actually use; for example, the article will tell you to throw out your bread machine, without allowing for the possibility that you might actually use your bread machine several times a week.

Worst of all, some of these articles are so poorly written and edited that it’s hard to get through them. Watch for blatant typos, sometimes even in the headlines, ungrammatical constructions, and repetition. I once read one with a title very much like the kitchen gadget headline above. Of the thirty entries, at least FOUR of them were for a garlic press. Do these sites even have editors? Did nobody notice that the writer kept repeating the same item? (In fact, it may have been more than four; I couldn’t finish the article.)

What are your pet peeves about online advice articles?

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