Twitter Users and Happiness: Misery Loves Company

Here at OSM we’re constantly bringing you stories about Twitter, the hugely popular social networking site. Among our recent posts we wrote about 5 years of tweets as we are now only days away from Twitter’s fifth anniversary. We also give you a weekly Twitter trends roundup, but the news today is about Twitter users, who apparently are roughly divided into two camps.

It seems that Twitter users are split into those who are happy and those who are unhappy according to a recent study published by the New Scientist and brought to our attention by Chris Taylor over on Mashable. Cornell University studied 102,000 Twitter users and 129 million tweets over 6 months, looking at their sense of self-fulfillment by analyzing particular words used. From this they were able to gauge SWB (subjective well-being) and find out if users had low SWB or high SWB.

What they found was rather interesting as it seems that people with high SWB tended to stick together in happy little circles. People with low SWB were far less likely to send or receive tweets from those with high SWB and vice versa. It seems then, that the old adage “misery loves company” rings even more true in the social media world than in the real world.

The main author of the study, Johan Bollen said, “Beyond demographic features such as age, sex and race, even psychological states such as “loneliness” can be assortative in a social network.” Quite why this should be has not yet been answered but Mashable makes a good point when it says that people on the ‘happy’ side would be less inclined to reply to a tweet from someone on a downer, while the ‘unhappy’ Twitter users are more than likely fed up with the never-ending chirpiness of the ‘happy’ side.

We found this really interesting and would love to know if you’re in a happy Twitter camp, or on the glum side? Does the study ring true as far as you’re concerned. Let us know with your comments although we feel on this evidence you’ll be more likely to comment if you’re a happy social media user.