What Facebook Users Were Most Thankful for This Year Did Not Include Being Anyone's Unwitting Online Test Subjects
What did you give thanks for this year while you were stuffing your face with turkey, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce with your friends and family at your side? In honor of Thanksgiving, the data analysis experts at Facebook Data Science did a little digging to find out what Facebook users are most thankful for — and to be honest, the answers are a little boring. Worthy, but boring. Ah well — it’s the little things, right?
Facebook Data Science culled their data from the many “Write X things you’re thankful for over the next Y days, then nominate someone else to do the same” sorts of challenges that have been making the rounds lately. First, they collected a set of anonymized status updates written in English that contained the both A) The words “grateful” or “thankful,” and B) The word “day” preceded or followed by a number. Then they aggregated and processed the statuses using a text-clustering algorithm, which lumped statuses like “my health,” “good health,” and “being healthy” together, to see what English speakers in the U.S. are most grateful for
It’s worth noting that the results are more than a little skewed: Facebook found that a whopping 90 percent of the people who participated in the challenge identified as female on their profile. Although it’s unlikely that women are more grateful than men, there are a number of other possible explanations for this phenomenon; Facebook posits that perhaps women tend to participate in these sorts of challenges more, that women might be more likely to nominate other women for it, or that women might be more likely to share this sort of information online.
So, with that in mind, the top 10 answers are…
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…Not at all surprising, but definitely solid. Apparently we’re most thankful for our loved ones, our health, and being able to support ourselves. I assume the reason “husband” appears on the list, but not “wife,” is because of that whole 90 percent women thing. It seems that not only were most of the respondents women, but moreover, that they were straight, married women.
Things get a little more hilarious, however, when you look at the top answer for each state in the nation:
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I understand the weather-related ones like “rain” and “thunderstorms”; droughts are no joke. Although I’m not religious myself, I also kind of get all of the states that are thankful for things like “the heavenly father” and “god’s love.” I definitely understand why New York’s top answer is “apartment”: Finding a good, livable place that you can actually afford is frequently nothing short of a miracle. But there are a lot of answers there that kind of made me go, “…Eh?” I mean, YouTube? Pinterest? I suppose YouTube makes a little more sense if you happen to make a living as a video personality or whatever, but… well, you’d think that California would be one of those states who would be thankful for the rain they’ve gotten recently, given that they’re currently in the middle of one of the worst droughts they’ve ever seen.
Maybe I’m being nit-picky, though. If Pinterest is what you’re most thankful for, then you probably have a good reason for it. Or something. At least Facebook didn’t perform any weird and manipulative psychological experiments on us to arrive at their data set, right?
For more, including which types of thankful statuses were the most “liked,” head on over to Facebook Data Science.