Also, an odd finding about the passion and conviction behind seemingly trivial social media posts.
Spoiler alert: Neither women nor men come out of this looking particularly good. But people who love gender stereotypes? Seven thumbs up.
A new study by a bunch of psychologists (mainly from the University of Pennsylvania) analyzed 10 million Facebook posts to figure out which topics get a disproportionately high number of posts from female users or male users.
Let’s have a look.
The 11 things women are more likely to post about are:
1 | Excitement
Including words like sooo, soooo and sooooo. (No, really. Those were all cited as examples.)
2 | Happy birthday!
3 | Cute/adorable babies and puppies
4 | Loving their boyfriend or “bestie.”
I put “bestie” in quotes to make it clear I didn’t use that word by choice.
5 | Being blessed with amazing friends/family
6 | Love
7 | A fun/good day
This includes use of the word soo. So that’s an interesting takeaway: Once you add >1.1 extra Os to “so,” it transitions from an expression of a standard fun time to one of unbridled excitement.
8 | Shopping
9 | Loving their sister
10 | An amazing boyfriend (specifically using his name)
In fact, names like Brandon, Zach and Robert came up so often in this context that they’re specifically mentioned.
11 | Genuine admiration
And the 11 things men are more likely to post about are:
1 | Government/freedom/rights/America
2 | Winning or losing a bet or game
3 | War and battles
4 | Curse words
The word “holy” got looped in here, apparently because the primary male use of the word “holy” isn’t preceding “water” or “trinity.” Or even “cow.”
5 | Football and fantasy football
6 | Rock/metal music
7 | Video games
Xbox, PlayStation and Wii were all specifically mentioned; the only individual game mentioned was Call of Duty.
8 | Opinions
I don’t love the reductive concept of “mansplaining” — ask me why and I’ll lay it out for you (kidding) — but here’s the black-and-white evidence of why it comes up so often online.
9 | World Cup soccer
10 | Taxes/the economy
And, naturally, Obama.
11 | Guns
The conclusions aren’t particularly hard to draw. Women are more likely to come off warmer and express their emotions; men are more likely to share about topics where they can be aggressive/competitive. Of the 22 things listed above, the ONLY one that doesn’t fall into that summary is #8 for women (they be shopping).
But there’s a twist. Regardless of the subject matter, both genders shared a common ground: conviction. The researchers found no difference in the assertiveness between the genders. When people post about something on Facebook — from “OMG I love my sister” to “Holy mackerel, Linkin Park rocks” — they mean it.
So what’s the takeaway? Taking an anthropological macro view, it does shed some light on why everyone on social media is so angry all the time; people may not just be joining the roving Internet mob because it’s something to do, they actually care. But that volume of people spewing that volume of impulsive passion inherently breeds ephemeralness; why the mob is furious about a gorilla this week and will be onto the next thing by next week. (I hear there’s a massive national cheese surplus, can people get passionate about that?) There will always be a group posting about a topic that draws their specific, legitimate passion, and when those groups intersect or grow or catch new eyes, temporary mass outrage ensues.
Or maybe the takeaway is: Cancel your Facebook account because it’s just a bunch of fiery pablum. You know, either way.