Ever thought that people were more irritable online? Or that they complained more? Well, you aren’t imagining things — it turns out anger spreads faster online than any other emotion.
Researchers at Beihang University conducted a study on China’s Twitter-like microblogging website, Sina Weibo, and found that angry posts were more likely to be passed around and commented upon than posts that expressed joy, sadness or disgust.
Angry posts often spread up to three degrees removed from the original, whereas posts fueled by other emotions were far more likely to stagnate.
Which is crazy, when you think about it. As a general rule, people don’t like being angry, so why do so many of us go online to vent? And why is an angry post more appealing than a happy one?
Sina Weibo has over 500 million users (making Twitter’s 200 million seem pretty small in comparison), and over 200,000 of these users — and 70 billion posts — were used in the research.
And although that makes for a pretty big sample, it’s totally ethnocentric. So this isn’t necessarily a global phenomenon.
In fact, many of the angry posts were about Chinese politics. But we can definitely see how this could apply to the rest of the world. There’s no shortage of people getting angry about politics over here:
And people just talking about politics seems to be getting this girl’s back up:
And some people are just, well, angry:
And some people just really like their chicken nuggets.
Emotions are much easier to quantify when they’re documented on social media — just imagine how difficult (or impossible) this kind of study would be if verbal communication was used instead.
As a result of this, it’s still unclear whether anger spreads any faster online than it does in the real world.
So what do you think — is anger more prevelant online, or does it just seem that way?