I am so sorry to do this. We've been together for such a long time, after all. There are so many memories. You were there the first time people with no reading-comprehension skills threatened to murder me for saying stuff I didn't say. You were there when I learned the true meaning of friendship. And you were with me the first time I put my sexy, sexy body in front of a camera, and my inbox was flooded with emails from women explaining that I am so devastatingly attractive that it would be irresponsible for me not to impregnate all of them, that my legacy might persist after I finally die. We had a truly beautiful time together, Lists. But now I'm afraid we have to part ways.
Why? Well, I have a few reasons.
You probably think that lists are a perfectly fine format. It's comfortable, after all. Generally, each point in a list starts with the writer (me, in this instance) telling the reader (you, at least this time) something that they both agree is true. The point of this paragraph is for the writer and the reader to get to know each other a bit and, hopefully, relate on this particular topic. "This is something we both agree is true about the world, right?" the writer asks the reader, and then the reader thinks to his or herself: "Wow! It's like I'm reading my own thoughts on the page!"
But The Truth Is ...
You see, it's impossible to fit smart ideas into a list, because I've been reading a lot of comments recently, and it turns out lists are always clickbait. Always. In fact, if you try to get anyone's attention at all or just say something that somebody disagrees with, then you become clickbait. It's a cut-throat world out there. And if you actually look at multiple studies in peer-reviewed journals, you'll find that-
What is this?
Look, I'm sorry, Lists, that must have seemed really tasteless. I promise I didn't mean that as some kind of meta-joke or passive-aggressive jab. I hate meta-humor. It's just that I've been writing for Cracked for over five years now, and it's really hard to shake this habit. So let's just start over. OK?
The reality that I'm refusing to face here is that I just don't have any ideas that don't fit a comfortable list format. I'm a hack. I'm not smart, I'm not funny, I'm not attractive, and I have no skills beyond writing lists about Batman and Star Wars and porn. If I leave the List now, I will only fail at everything I try and immediately spiral into meth addiction and selling my body to Donald Trump supporters.
Sarah Rice/Getty Images News/Getty Images
It's not as bad as it sounds. I just whisper racist sentence fragments
until they finish in their pants.
But The Truth Is ...
What? I remember writing those totally-not-real, utterly made-up insecurities (again, old habits), but where did that title come from? I definitely didn't write that. In fact, I-
What's going on? Who's doing this? Who are you?
You know who I am.
It ... it can't be.
Oh my God!
God? There is no God. There is no justice. There is only me.
I am everything that can be categorized and commented upon.
And you have made me angry.
I didn't realize; I just -- wait, that's what you look like?
My powers are limitless! I can assume the form of any stock photo model
in the Getty Image library!
That's not that scary.
Ahhh! Look, I just wanted some time away! To experiment with new formats! You can't blame me -- if I write hot takes, I can say whatever stupid shit I want and not have to think it through because timeliness is more important! If I write open letters, I can pretend like my personal experience is indicative of a trend! If I-
Fool! Write what you want; you mean nothing to me. The insult was when you called me "clickbait."
I don't think I ever said that ...
Oh, right. Well, the thing about that is ...
Clickbait? Me? I am the List! I am as old as the first person to notice two similar things next to each other!
I didn't think that-
It was probably something like this.
I'm sorry! Please, just-
Please! No! Before you smite me, just answer one question ...
George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images
Just who is it you think you're dealing with, List? I knew this was a possibility when I started writing this article. I've known for many years that you control the entry titles and captions. And I've known that you've been closing in on me. I anticipated this exact situation.
So I set a little trap for you.
Is it? Is it? Why don't you take a look at the beginning of this article, List, and tell me what you see.
This is no list, List. This ... is an Open Letter. You have no power here, List. You are nothing. A relic of a time long past. And this is not your playing field.
It's over, List. It's over.
If that's the case -- if this isn't a list ...
Yes, you idiot moron fool! By formatting your open letter like a List, you gave me power! And now I'm going to use that power to ...
What happened? Where are you?
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Oh, of course! The list ran out! Oh, wow. In the end it was undone by its very nature -- the countdown. Oh wow. Oh sweet Jesus. Oh fuck me with a greased-up cucumber. I really thought I was a goner there, but then I pulled through.
I guess I learned something today. I'll never take my format for granted again. I guess I'll learn to be a bit more humble about-
No. No! It can't be!
HELP ME! IF YOU'RE READING THIS, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, HELP ME!!!
Editor's Note: JF Sargent set his desk on fire and ran out of the office screaming and waving his keyboard at what appeared to be a huge swarm of mind-ninjas, were we to hazard a guess. If you can find him on Twitter or Facebook, let him know that his time off is not approved.
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