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Feeling angry? Blame your social network

Fri, 09/20/2013 - 4:10pm
Chris Warner, Executive Editor

&*%@$#!!!!!

Now that I have your attention, keep reading.

The internet has often been described as a very large town square. In fact, one such comparison has been attributed to Bill Gates. Unfortunately, not everything that goes on in the town square is civilized. Stocks, tar and feathers, and angry mobs come to mind. It’s not surprising, then, that much of what we communicate online among our social networks isn’t the most cheerful subject matter.

And if it seems as though the internet is becoming an angrier place, researchers in China are likely to agree with you. Computer scientists from Beihang University (http://bit.ly/168FwEX) studied tweets in a Chinese social media service similar to Twitter called Weibo. In 2010, researcher Rui Fan and his colleagues culled 70 million tweets from 200,000 users and created a social network comprised of users who, according to MIT Technology Review, “mutually interact by sending messages to each other or retweeting each other’s tweets, for example.” Tweets were labeled as either joy, sadness, anger, or disgust. (http://bit.ly/1gnyYbl)

Sadness and disgust didn’t produce much of a correlation, and joy did produce some correlation. However, the biggest correlation came from anger. No doubt, political and other events of concern to the Chinese population had some kind of influence on the messages, but this study suggests that angry messages spread faster than other types of sentiments.

There’s an old saying that the squeaky wheel gets the oil, so if you want to change the world – or at least have your network pay attention to you – make sure you give your tweets, status updates, and blog posts your grouchy best. And share this %^*&@ blog post!

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