Tweets study says Hawaii happiest, Louisiana not so much
Analysis of geotagged tweets suggests that living on a beautiful island makes for a more uplifted soul, than, say, not living on a beautiful island.
Being a long-suffering admirer of research, I am always delighted when a new piece of academic thought comes along to subvert my idiosyncratic suspicions.
This is not one of those times.
For my excitement is slightly muted on hearing that people in Hawaii are happier than those anywhere else in the U.S.
This quite astounding conclusion comes from an analysis of 10 million geotagged tweets from 2011, pored over by squinting eyes and expanded brains at the University of Vermont.
As CNN reports it, Hawaii is a ha-ha-happy place, while the greatest volume of the most miserable people in America is to be found in Louisiana.
While you try to stop your limbs from shaking with involuntary surprise, might I tell you that these intellectuals used the Mechanical Turk Language Assessment Test.
It is quite fascinating how they came to the conclusion that Hawaii was so cheery.
To quote the research report, there was an "abundance of relatively happy words such as 'beach' and food-related words."
Lying on the beach and eating apparently makes one a happy person. If only Socrates had known.
There was one other word that Hawaiians used a lot in their tweets. This word was "Hi." The scrupulous among you might realize that "Hi" might mean "Hello," but might also signify an abbreviation for "Hawaii."
I quote the brains from the heights of Vermont again:
We chose not to remove this word from the data set because its use in place of "hello" will contribute to the happiness score in other states, and the rich variety of happy words occurring in Hawaii paints a convincing picture of it as a happy state regardless of this small bias.
My own experience of Hawaiian people is that they tend to appreciate their natural surroundings and stare with a sad stupefaction at the strained and stressed-out who visit their shores.
Your own stupefaction will not abate when I tell you that, in this research, "rainbow" was regarded as one of the happiest words, while "earthquake" was a downer.
Perhaps that's why Maine, Nevada, Utah and, gosh, Vermont followed Hawaii closely on the delirium scale, while Mississippi, Maryland, Michigan, and Delaware followed Louisiana as Debbie Downers.
Yes, those four states suffer a lot of earthquakes. Or perhaps they enjoy tweeting about earthquakes because they wonder what they're like. Or perhaps they're full of deeply sensitive people who are awfully caring about others who do suffer earthquakes.
The researchers even delved into examining which specific cities were frightfully miserable. Here, Beaumont, Texas, came out a clear winner -- or, I suppose, loser.
The happiest city of all was deemed to be Napa, Calif.
I am extremely familiar with this place. I go there regularly. It is true that most people there are very happy. It is also true that they have been drinking wine all day.