According to a team at the very not-real-sounding Vermont Complex Systems centre and based on what is surely a totally objective and not-at-all arbitrary analysis of tweets, the US-state of Louisiana is understandably (Katrina and blacking out the Super Bowl for two examples) the saddest state, while the holiday island Hawaii (sunshine, pineapple, knowing they bestowed Manti Te’o unto the world) is the happiest.
To find these purported emotional extremities of the US, the researchers analysed each tweet for its happiness content based on the positive words, such as beauty and love, and negative words, such as boo and lied, that were used. In addition to whether or not a tweet contained “happy” or “sad” words, the extent to which a city used certain words more or less than the national average also played a role in its rating. For instance, Napa’s relatively low use of the (sad) word “bitches” directly contributed to its status as the happiest and least-derogatory-towards-women city in the country. Conversely, Beaumont’s markedly high use of the (sad) word “shit” played a role in its status as the US’s most depressing and profane place to live.
Of course, this study does leave a considerable amount of room for error. It in no way takes into account the context surrounding the indicator words. For instance, a tweet declaring “Damn, look at these fine bitches” might very well be marked as sad when, in fact, it’s a joyful declaration of aesthetic appreciation. Still, the authors are able to note that their data correlates with other (still probably highly subjective) measures of happiness as conducted by Gallup.
Even if potentially woefully inaccurate, it is, nonetheless, a fun little study that, depending on your city, can either validate your current emotional state or send you into existential crisis as you question the very happiness you thought you had, everyone in Louisiana. Enjoy.