Have you noticed on your Twitter feed or your Facebook or your favourite blogs lately the frequency of a number in the title line? I have seen so many tweets like this lately that it got me thinking… Look at these examples (I’m not recommending them they were just the first 3 that came up when I searched Twitter for “10 Ways”.)
- 10 ways to look 5 years younger. http://ht.ly/3NMdg
- 10 Ways In 10 Days To Totally Transform Your Mind, Your Money and Your Marketing http://bit.ly/b8y22G
- 10 Ways To Become Indispensable at Your Work http://bit.ly/h0WYvp
Here are my 3Thoughts about posts like these;
#1 We are more likely to choose to click on a link that starts with a nice low number and a promise to cure whatever problem we may be having in our lives. I don’t know if I can find any supporting data for that assertion, but I do believe it to be true none-the-less. Further, I would guess that in general the lower the number the better.
I like the numbered post as I know it will be clearly divided up with clear title sentences at each number so that I can easily skip the ones I don’t want without fear of missing information I may want. In fact I will be able to scan really quickly and often save myself reading it at all if the bulet points don’t look valid. A short list appeals to those with short attention spans which seems to be a growing demographic in the modern society, and for all of us who like schedules and checklists there is obvious appeal to the idea of 5 or 10ways to do something. Perhaps the most famous “10 Things” list is from the Old Testament in the 10 Commandments.
#2 The promises made in these titles sound good up front. Who would not want to look 5 years younger, or become vital in our workplace? By the same token wouldn’t we all like to be “perfect” in every way? One of the great promises we might look towards is the promise of eternal life or life in the Kingdom of God.
18 A certain ruler asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ 19Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 20You know the commandments: “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honour your father and mother.” ’ 21He replied, ‘I have kept all these since my youth.’ 22When Jesus heard this, he said to him, ‘There is still one thing lacking. Sell all that you own and distribute the money* to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ 23But when he heard this, he became sad; for he was very rich.
#3 We are rarely able to follow through with these great plans. Few of us get beyond the stage of reading the ideas to actually committing ourselves to follow through. Then of that small number few are able to maintain the effort.
A couple years ago when looking ahead to Christmas time in my messy, can’t have anyone over, home I heard about the FlyLady http://www.flylady.net. The idea with this plan is that you don’t have to clean continuously for hours but can acomplish all you need in a series of short stints of work with built in rest breaks. It was great! Following their plans for Cruising Through the Holidays I was able to both tidy the whole house and get everything ready for Christmas. This lasted for most of a year, but then I started erasing their emails without reading them and then I finally just stopped all-together. The rich young ruler had done pretty well up until the point where he asked Jesus about the requirements, but that last step was just too much for him.
24Jesus looked at him and said, ‘How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! 25Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’
But here llies our comfort. We can work away to eat a more healthy diet, get more exercise, be more organized, or whatever the latest effort is but we don’t need to beat ourselves up too much about it because,
26 Those who heard it said, ‘Then who can be saved?’ 27He replied, ‘What is impossible for mortals is possible for God.’