Looking to Breakup? Just a Handy Graph!

The chart above shows breakups announced by Facebook users' status updates plotted over time. The most likely breakup periods were just after Valentines Day and just before Christmas.

I heard about this nifty little thing while driving to work one day last month.

I’m not breaking up with my boyfriend. No, the first thing I thought of was how I could use this information for screenplays.

Yeah, I guess I’m a true writer then.

From NY Daily News –

Today is Christmas, one of the most likely times for relationships to breakup, according to British journalist David McCandless.

McCandless, also a graphic designer, has analyzed over 10,000 Facebook status updates to produce the “Facebook Breakup Chart,” a graphic representation of the most likely times of the year for couples to split.

To create the graph, he and colleague Lee Bryon searched users’ status updates for the terms “breakup” and “broken up,” then mapped the frequency of the terms as they correspond to the days of the year.

The graph spikes most notably just after Valentine’s Day and right before Spring Break.

Breakups also start to climb in the two weeks before Christmas, though Christmas Day appears to be relatively safe.

“The lowest day of the year of course – Christmas day. Who would do that?” McCandless asked his audience during a talk at the TED idea conference last July, where he first presented his discoveries.

Mondays also show small spikes in breakup frequency, as do the months when students are on summer vacation.

McCandless, known for his creative data visualization, features more of his work on his website informationisbeautiful.net, and writes a monthly column for The Guardian’s data blog.

He and Bryon created the controversial graphic in 2008 for the book “The Visual Miscellaneum: A Colorful Guide to the World’s Most Consequential Trivia,” but in recent days the chart began to make the rounds on the internet, prompting McCandless to post it on his site himself.

Though his methodology has been criticized by bloggers such as Digital Society’s Paul Crowe, McCandless believes the amount of data generated by modern life could lead to fascinating breakthroughs.

“There’s a titanic amount of data out there now, unprecedented,” McCandless told his TED audience. “But if you ask the right kind of question or you work it in the right kind of way, interesting things can emerge.”


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