The secrets to happiness, according to Twitter

What do your tweets say about your mood? And is there a way to detect how happy you are based on your Twitter presence?

This is something that Chris Danforth and Peter Dodds, two researchers in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Vermont, set out to discover. So they created a wild thing called the Hedonometer—a digital graph that analyzes millions of tweets from all over the world to figure out average happiness levels.

The Hedonometer has been collecting data since 2009—revealing juicy factoids like Hawaii is the happiest state, Tuesday is the saddest day, Christmas is the happiest day of the year and people with more Twitter followers are more likely to tweet happy stuff.

It may sound obvious, but to actually have ‘definitive’ data on something as subjective as happiness is no small feat.

Danforth and Dod used linguistic analysis—analyzing over 100,000 words across 10 different languages—to come up with a “universal positivity bias.” They figured out that, actually, languages across the board use more positive words than negative ones.

And that’s not all they discovered. Although it’s no mystery that traveling can make people really happy, the Hedonometer used geo-tracking to basically prove this. It found that people who tweet across a larger area (i.e. from many different places) are more likely to use happy terms like “lol” and “haha” with more frequency than others.

Even the folks at Facebook have gotten in on the happy-testing action. They switched up the info that some users receive in their news feed to see if reading sad posts would make people more likely to post sad things. It turns out there’s a thing they call ‘emotional contagion’ that basically says that: “…emotional states can be transferred to others… leading people to experience the same emotions without their awareness.”

So the lesson here? If you want to be happier, feed yourself happier data and surround yourself with happy people online. And, maybe, try to forget that scientists are constantly analyzing your social media presence.

(Image via Shutterstock)

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