The folks at Hedonometer.org have a nifty interactive chart they describe as the “Dow Jones Index of Happiness”. It analyzes tweets in English from around the world to present “happiness trends” from as early as 2008 and until today.
To quantify the happiness of the atoms of language, we merged the 5,000 most frequent words from a collection of four corpora: Google Books, New York Times articles, Music Lyrics, and Twitter messages, resulting in a composite set of roughly 10,000 unique words. Using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk service, we had each of these words scored on a nine point scale of happiness: (1) sad to (9) happy.
Unsurprisingly, happiness spikes up in weekends and holidays and hits notable lows in times of natural disasters and terror attacks. In a quick glance I noticed one interesting trend: In the five years since data collection has begun, the chart suggests that people are enjoying holidays — especially Christmas — less and less.
One might argue that people who spend time on Twitter during holidays are inherently more lonely or introvert, thus enjoying family and relative gatherings less than others; but, this is irrelevant because in our case the total population are those who do use Twitter, something that in turn raises a set of different questions regarding technology and its effects on our social life.
The concept of “hedonometers” — happiness gauging devices — was first conceived in 1880 (Wikipedia).
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