Why Top Ten Lists are Bullshit


  1. BULLSHIT … and Why We Should STILL HAVE THEM

Everybody loves top lists.They’re easy to digest.They give you immediate reasons to love/hate them, agree/disagree with them.They spark all kinds of responses.We can’t help ourselves, even though we all know they’re subjective and arbitrary.Even though we all know they’re COMPLETE BULLSHIT.

If you’ve been following along with my podcasts or live concerts, you’ve heard me talk about my top favorite music artists.If you’ve REALLY been following along, you’ll also recall two weird things about my top artists list.FIRST, my TOP 5 includes about 15 listings.And SECOND, it changes ALL THE TIME.

So if that’s the case, is my list an actual “best-of” at all?Yes.And no.YES, because my list absolutely represents my favorites.The artists at or near the top will always be at or near the top.If you expand my list to – say – the top 100, there’s a chance that 95% of it will never change.

But also NO, because those rankings are always in flux.My number one will likely always be my number one.But my numbers two through ten are constantly shifting.The #2 band might be #3 or 5 or 7 on a different day.An 11 thru 20 band might pop into the top ten next month, and then pop down to #28 the month after.And that’s not just okay, it’s honest.It accounts for natural human rhythms, changes in mood or context or emphasis, even shifts in opinion or judgment.

We all have our unquestionable beliefs, ones that won’t be shaken no matter who says what, or what new experiences or information we bump into.The mistake we OFTEN make, though, is to believe that ALL of our beliefs are unquestionable, immutable, unshakable.If we allow ourselves to be more open to our natural rhythms, to let our vulnerability poke through, we become more aware of how often our minds & hearts shift from one small belief to its opposite.Or more likely our belief shifts one way or another on the spectrum, as the idea of hard & fast opposites is often as delusional as top lists themselves.

When we see that these shifts aren’t just there AND THAT’S OKAY, but are actually MORE honest and positive, we start to plug in more to the fullness of our minds & hearts, and how much more dynamic and vibrant the world is.Try it.Instead of making a numbered list, make a GROUP of favorites and a GROUP of second favorites, etc. etc.The inclusiveness and variety of it feel amazing.You’ll start to see the walls of categorization & division dissolve, and possibility expand to a limitless capacity.

Whether it’s music or movies or people or politics, we should never have to limit our choices & “favorites” to only those at the top – the ones we’re pressured to pick and stick to.We should be able to choose a group of anything or anyone, and say, “THOSE are what I like, love, respect, agree with, believe in.”

So YES, we SHOULD make our lists.We SHOULD deliberate and decide on what matters to us.But let our top picks come with a revolving door.Let our voting be ranked instead of either/or. And as with so many of the things I talk about, we’ll find that we have way more connection, way more in common, than we ever thought before.

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© 2018 by Nick DeMatteo

New York, NY