Human beings like to label and categorize things. It’s just in our nature to put things into an order, and one of the side effects of that is that we love lists. Over my professional blogging career I have generated somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 list articles at the various blogs I have worked at. One editor even nicknamed me “The List Daddy” as it is believed I have generated more lists than anyone else on the Internet, which is a dubious achievement at best.
Seeing as my life has become so intertwined with lists, I always like to see what others have come up with, and when Time released its “The 50 Worst Inventions” list, I had to take a look. Oh great googly moogly what a disaster of a list.
Beyond the fact there is no criteria set (Is this for the past year? Past 50 years? Forever?), and there is absolutely no organization to the list (They couldn’t even bother to alphabetize them?), it really feels like they went, “Oh, people complain about such-and-such, so we can put it on there and they’ll relate to it!”
There is a lot of technology on the list mixed in with things like New Coke — the single worst marketing idea ever –, and we can certainly agree with entries like the Virtual Boy, but Foursquare and Farmville?
Here is what the list said about Foursquare:
When broadcasting your every thought via Facebook and Twitter isn’t enough, there’s Foursquare, the next generation of creepy social networking. Instead of saying where you are, you can use your phone’s GPS to broadcast the address. Just another tool tapping into a generation of narcissism, with which you can earn badges for checking into your local Starbucks more than anyone else. While coupons eventually come along as bonus incentive, Foursquare simply builds another layer onto a generation living virtually. Introduced in 2009, the site has only a million users — a drop in the bucket compared with Facebook, expected to soon reach 500 million. But like most social-networking phenomena, its usage is only growing.
To be specific, Foursquare launched on March 11, 2009, and has gained around a million users in 15 months, but yet it belongs on a list of worst inventions with the likes of asbestos? You want a social media site that is one of the worst ideas of all time that is less than a year old? Have they not heard of Blippy?
As for FarmVille, basically the entry just said it kills too much time, and that makes it one of the worst inventions of some indeterminate amount of time.
The list mixes pop culture, trends, technology and so on, but to claim something like Foursquare is one of the worst just seems silly. I lived through the age of Hypercolor shirts, trust me, I know the face of evil.
While the whole things makes for an interesting read, I would take it with a generous helping of salt when it comes to the more modern entries in the list as it feels more like they were included as buzz words. But, feel free to pile the hatred on to Crocs.
What say you? What do you think are some of the worst inventions of all time?