Facebook Tracks Gross National Happiness: How Content Are We?
What were the happiest days of the year? Facebook's tool reveals highs and lows throughout the last two years.
Social Media Matters
By Kristin Burnham, CIO
If June 25, 2009, was a bad day for you, rest assured that you were in good company—it was also a bad day for a majority of Facebook-using Americans. The worst day in the last year, in fact. How can you tell? A tool that Facebook just updated, called the Gross National Happiness index. This tool measures how happy (or unhappy) Facebook users are day-to-day. It bases its results on the number of positive words (“happy,” “yay,” and “awesome”) and negative words (“sad,” “doubt” and “tragic”) that Facebook users post when updating their status.
Today, Facebook added 18 new countries—which include Germany, India and Spain—to their list of available Gross National Happiness data. (No need to worry about your privacy—the data that Facebook pulls for this analysis is anonymous data. No one at Facebook reads any of the actual status messages.) So what’s the data reveal? Here are a few stats that offer a glimpse into how populations feel on a given day.
-Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and Easter mark the “happiest” days of the year for Facebook users in the United States.
-One of the least happy days for Americans in the last year was June 25, 2009, when the death of Michael Jackson was announced.
-In addition to deaths of famous people, sports can also lead to some of the lowest days in the happiness index. Ireland’s score, for example, dropped on Nov. 18, 2009, when FIFA awarded a controversial win to France over Ireland in the World Cup Playoffs.
-Internationally, spikes in happiness occur on holidays. Spain’s happiness index, for example, increases on Saint Jordi’s day in April. In India, Holi in March and its Independence Day mark two days with significant peaks. Super Bowl Sunday in the U.S. is another “happy” day.
Facebook also charted international trends in Gross National Happiness, denoting if the index is trending upward or downward. The chart below suggests that Americans and Canadians are generally more positive now than they were several months ago, likely due to the improvement in the economy. Venezuelans and Colombians, however, are seeing a decrease in their Gross National Happiness.
How happy were people on your last birthday? Take a peak and see what you find.
Staff Writer Kristin Burnham covers consumer Web and social technologies for CIO.com. She writes frequently on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google. You can follow her on Twitter: @kmburnham.