Want to Socialize with Your Favorite Celeb? Write Them a List
If you go to the comments section on any famous celebrity’s Instagram post, you’ll find an unnerving number of users who are trying to feel included. You may discover thousands of them vying for the “1st like” or, if it’s already been several minutes since the picture was posted, maybe a “LB”, or “like back.” Some self-important shit-stirrers take it upon themselves to critique the celebrity’s physical appearance, voice personal qualms with their career choices (“What happened to the Miley on Hannah Montana?”), or spout unfounded hatred in a comment that is so long it makes you wonder how anyone could have so much time on their hands. It goes without saying that 99% of these contributions will go unnoticed anyway, buried under bottomless layers of Internet insanity.
The expression goes “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,” and that’s the advice people who comment “1st like” or respond to a Nicki Minaj tweet with “So, how are you doing today?” appear to be heeding. Perhaps if they can include themselves in a celebrity’s affairs in even the most tangential way, they can claim a certain amount for themselves. Social media has become increasingly revealing—Snapchat’s video-centric mission, for example, fills people in on whatever wasn’t posted to Instagram. As a result, the public feels increasingly deserving of the personal details of celebrities’ lives.
BJ Novak’s new List App serves the desire to be included in a refreshingly thoughtful, erudite way–by rewarding a user’s wit and thinking ability. With The List App, users create lists about anything, with the option to add pictures and subheadings to the entries. They can fill out lists suggested by the app (“Guilty Pleasures” or “Style Icons,” for example) or create their own, which others can then like, re-list, or comment on. They can even suggest that another user fill out a particular list. This means that if you wanted to know Snoop Dogg’s go-to munchies, you could actually request this information directly from him.
Of course there’s no certainty that celebrities on The List App will listen to your suggestions or read your comments on their lists, but Novak’s app, with an intellectual angle, promotes the inclusion in their lives that some people covet. A suggestion for Tavi Genvinson’s “How to Deal with Suppressive Persons” list may never be acknowledged, but at least the user has channeled the urge to spam her latest Instagram post into a more productive/creative place.
Anyone can post a selfie on Instagram or add a fumbling clip to their Snapstory, but it requires substantial cognitive effort to compile an interesting, thorough list. Public figures who are active on the new app are more transparent through their lists than an interview in a magazine will typically make them out to be–the lists show what celebs truly interested in, and their true tone of voice. In the same vein, The List App welcomes humor in a way that other apps don’t–you only have 140 characters on Twitter to be clever, but The List App’s generous character limits promise more opportunity for wit and humor to shape an online image.
Celebrities and public figures aside, social media users want to feel included in something larger than the space taken up by their own online presence. The list is an inherently interactive way to structure information because it only includes certain information. That’s why a listicle like “32 Things Jewish Girls Can’t Resist” garners so many “likes”—the Jewish girls who read that will feel included because a writer has acknowledged a narrative that doesn’t apply to everyone.
So far, most reviews have lauded the new app for how in tune it is with current trends. We love lists, and now we can say, “There’s an app for that.” The only drawback could be that you need a lot of your friends to join before the fun can really begin, but it seems likely that The List App will steadily gain followers due to its innovative combination of the list and a social media network.
BJ Novak’s List App is a much-welcomed respite in the age of superficial self-branding. It honors our minds more than it does our desires to cultivate an online image. The app’s FAQ page explains that the app’s mission is inspired by the fact that humans have always used lists to structure information. They are meant to be added to and subtracted from, partially erased and rewritten, and The List App is a refreshing reminder of how much fun that can be. Maybe our first creation can be a list of lists we want to create on the App?
Download The List App here