The saddest day in 12 years

Written by      

There have been significant low points in 2020, but researchers at one lab reckon that the saddest day in 2020 so far was May 31. According to them, that Sunday was more demoralising than any other day since the study began in 2008.

A computerised algorithm called the Hedonometer measures global mood by sifting through messages posted to the social media site Twitter. Every day, it randomly gathers 10 per cent of all tweets in a dozen languages, then looks for specific words that have been ranked in terms of their positivity or negativity. Based on the frequency of those words, it calculates an average happiness or sadness level for that day.The Hedonometer was created by mathematicians and computer scientists Chris Danforth and Peter Dodds, who co-direct the Computational Story Lab at the University of Vermont.

Events in the United States dominate the mood of the Hedonometer most of the time—but not always. In 2019, the lowest point occurred on the day of the Christchurch terrorist attacks. Every year, Christmas Day is marked by a massive spike in positivity. But aside from the plunges in mood in 2020, which correlate with Black Lives Matter protests as well as COVID-related events, the mood of the internet describes a gently fluctuating wave, always curving back to the centre.

More by