Are top 10 lists a sign of the apocalypse?

I want to talk about something that I feel is one of the most important issues of our time. It’s something that typifies the disconnect between our generations, and if we can’t come to a consensus, I am not sure whether we can survive. Like, as a species. 

I’m talking about top 10 lists. Specifically whether they count down from 10 or up from 1.

I recently got into a discussion about this very subject with my kids. They were joking around at the mall, and like every other thing that ever happens any more, there was a reference to something from YouTube. Or maybe TikTok. Possibly SnapChat. Or Instagram, in that place where you go when you press the magnifying glass?

Apparently, if you click the magnifying glass, that’s where you find the memes. Also I love The Pickup Line! They are also trying to figure out what kids are ever talking about!

Apparently, if you click the magnifying glass, that’s where you find the memes. Also I love The Pickup Line! They are also trying to figure out what kids are ever talking about!


Anyway, I’ve been getting some texts from my older daughter who is away at college, and feeling like I need to respond right away. So I guess it was affecting our trip to the mall because my daughter suddenly said, in a british accent “Top 10 times mom delayed us because she was looking at her phone. Number 1, leaving Lululemon.” 

Which was hilarious and I think was a callback to a Top 10 Anime Betrayals video (are they still called videos?) Which I think has become a meme, wherein the things ranked are neither anime nor betrayals. 

The whole thing just feels like some sort of inside joke that I’m definitely not in on and can’t understand. But if I know anything, it’s that top 10 lists count backward from 10. Maybe our youth has forgotten a little someone named David Letterman, and that’s why they think it’s okay to just list things from one to 10 with no suspense or order at all.

So I did a survey of all of my group chats. My book club agrees that top 10s start at 10. My parents and sister and brother apparently really don’t care. My husband and children were split 50/50. But since what actually happened was that my one daughter said the list starts with one and my husband said 10, I realized something. No, not that there’s something wrong with my group texts because people don’t answer them. I realized that most of the respondents are my age, and I immediately theorized that this was a generation gap.

And it seemed so plausible. I’m at the age when people way younger than me are starting to run this place, or at least have a pretty loud voice about the way things are. They have a lot to say about everything from gender and sexuality to how many piercings are still just for super basic girls and how many make you cool and edgy. So why wouldn’t they just abandon the idea of top ten count downs. If they know David Letterman, its because he is that guy with a big white beard people used to think was funny. The other examples people of my generation used to justify their 10 going up argument were Casey Kasem and “the radio.” So I’m pretty sure anyone under 30 has no idea what we’re talking about.

But then a funny thing happened. I went to the internet to do some research. First I looked on YouTube, but I could not even find one example of a top 10 count down that started with 1, even on Watch Mojo, which I think has the British accent voiceover my daughter was emulating. I dug deeper, checking on instagram and even TicTok. Nothing.

In the end, I think it was just an error on my daughter’s part. I can’t be entirely sure, because even when looking for some good images for this post, I found a guy named antman3000 whose has a whole flickr about with a bunch of images that are top 10s ranked from 1 to 10. (I made one the thumbnail for this post, just to see if anyone is paying attention.) But still, no generational dispute. If the fabric of society is ripping apart, it’s not because of the order of top 10 lists.

Buy I’ll leave you with the best top 10 list I found:

Beth McConnellComment