Channing Sargent
October 22, 2016 12:04 pm
channingsargent/ www.instagram.com

Take a look at your Instagram and Twitter feeds. What do you post about the most? Have you ever thought about it? Well, you might want to, because a new study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research Public Health and Surveillance found that what you post on social media might really be representative of how healthy you are.

Do you constantly post about partying and drinking, or about hiking and drinking cold-pressed juices?

Researchers at the University of Utah College of Public Health found that people who posted more about health and happiness tended to live in particular areas.

“We found that neighborhoods with social and economic disadvantage, high urbanicity, and more fast food restaurants may exhibit lower happiness and fewer healthy behaviors,” the team wrote.

The researchers tracked posts that included words like “laughter” “joy” and “rainbow,” and activity words like “walk/walking,” “dancing,” “golf,” and “swimming.”

They then mapped the tweets. In the graph below, darker areas represent a higher percentage of happy tweets.

JMIR PUBLIC HEALTH AND SURVEILLANCE/ publichealth.jmir.org

Happy tweets tended to be centered around more rural, well-off areas, while more socioeconomically disadvantaged, crowded and urban places were less likely to post about being healthy or happy.

The study has some flaws, though. Twitter users tend to fall between the ages of 18 and 49, and so are not representative of an entire population. Then, there’s also the issue of “social modeling:” people tend to mirror their friends behavior, in life and on social media.

If your friend boasts about her epic In-N-Out trip, you might be inclined to post about your Five Guys splurge, even though such a meal might be way outside of your usual habits.

Still, the study includes some useful findings. As Teen Vogue points out, our social media feeds are heavily curated. We show off a glorified version of ourselves. This leads us to think that if we curated a healthier appearance of our lives on social media, we might actually end up living a healthier life.

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