Facebook status updates: young people are self-centered and old ramble

Dec 23, 2010

The Facebook Data Team had a quantitative look at status updates by age and content:

The chart on left confirms the typical stereotypes about younger and older people. Younger people express more negative emotions (including anger) and swear more. They use more pronouns referring to oneself (“I”, “my”, etc.) and talk more about school. Older people write longer updates, use more prepositions and articles, and talk more about other people, including their family.

Word categories are sorted by correlation, from greatest to least. Blue indicates positive correlations while red indicates negative.

They also looked at friend count and status content (right side). Apparently people with higher friend counts refer to “you” and swear more. Now before you go off and start swearing your head off on Facebook to find more friends, I don’t have to talk about the difference between correlation and causation, right? Right? Okay. I can see the spike in the F-word now from social media gurus.

Another thing. I’m guessing there’s a very high uncertainty level attached to these correlations, which by the way are really low (especially for the friend count one). A 0.02 correlation is not really something worth writing home about, much less increasing F-bomb usage. Oh well. Have a look, but bring your bag of salt.

[Facebook Data Team]

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