A group of 11 undergraduate, masters, doctoral, and postdoctoral students at the University of Vermont each majoring in sociology, nonlinear dynamics, networks, ecology, and physics recently wrote a blog that determined the happiest city in America according to how each city tweets.
The Vermont students plotted over 10 million geotagged tweets from 2011, coloring each point by the average happiness of nearby words. With this, they were able to calculate the happiness of each tweet through a “word-cloud” formula that highlights specific good and bad words and were able to quantify the happiness of each state.
Through their research, they determined a color coding (the more red; the happier, the more blue; the sadder) to measure the happiness level 383 U.S. cities.
Within the framework of that research, they determined a list of the happiest states and the unhappiest states (the map below shows the color coding of each state. The darker shades of red indicate happiest while the darkest shades of blue indicate unhappiest).
Hawaii and Maine top the list as the two happiest states while Mississippi and Louisiana are the two unhappiest. Alabama came in at No. 46, making it the 5th unhappiest state in America. The full list can be found here.
Furthermore, the study looked at each city and found the happiest city to be Napa, CA, due to a relative abundance of such happy words as “restaurant”, “wine”, and even “cheers”, along with a lack of profanity. At the other end of the spectrum, the saddest city was Beaumont, TX. As the research in the blog indicated, cities in the south tended to be less happy than those in the north, with a major contributing factor being the relative abundance of profanity used in those cities.
(Moreover, in an earlier blog, they determined what was the happiest place in New York City. As it were, the ‘happiest place’ is just inside the western edge of Central Park, where the intersection of 7th and 77th would be – just north of the lake and east of the Hayden Planetarium).
As for individual cities in Alabama?
Birmingham came in 280th, Mobile 295th, Tuscaloosa 347th and Anniston/Oxford 351st out of 383 possible cities.
The entire list of cities can be found here.
While geo-tagged tweets may not be the best way to determine the happiness (or sadness) of a city, it is interesting nonetheless.
Plus, Napa, California (and not Disney World) can lay claim to the happiest place on Earth – or at least the continental U.S.