Map: What we’re thankful for, according to our Facebook posts

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We don’t just tell our family what we’re thankful for at the Thanksgiving table anymore. We post our thanks on Facebook, too — and that gives the data analysts at Facebook a trove of data to analyze about what, exactly, we’re grateful for.

Facebook scraped user updates for status updates containing the words “grateful” and “thankful” this past summer, when a few challenges circulated asking users to post about the things they cherished in their lives. And they found, perhaps unsurprisingly, that Facebook users are most thankful for their friends and families.

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What Sex, Food, And Selfies Have To Do With Effective Social Marketing

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In 2010, researchers found that 80% of social media posts were announcements about people’s immediate experiences–Facebook status updates like Joe’s “OMG that is A LOT of snow” are the norm in social feeds. So in 2012, two researchers at Harvard were curious about this and decided to see how self-disclosure affects the brain.

It turns out that talking about our own thoughts and experiences activates the rewards system of the brain, providing that same shot of dopamine we get from sex, food, and exercise. The reward activity in the brain is also much greater when people get to share their thoughts with others.

Simply put, Joe’s wake-up tweet gave his brain pleasure.

What’s on your mind?

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People use status updates to share what’s on their minds, to tell others what they’re doing, and to gather feedback from friends. The different ways people use status updates form some interesting patterns. In this study, we looked at the usage of words in different “word categories” in status updates. This led us to discover some patterns in how people use status updates differently, and how their friends interact with different status updates.

Your Facebook Status Updates Can Show If You’re Depressed

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Take the word “f**k,” for example. The presence of everyone’s favorite curse word in status updates, along with “pissed” and “bloody” accurately indicated high degrees of hostility and aggression in that person’s behavior. “Hate” and “lonely” correlated with negative social relationships, too. The frequency of such words also tracked with seasonal depression trends. Winter was prime time for the blues.