Fans of hoverboards and incredibly stupid shoes may recognize 2015 as the year when Marty McFly learns a valuable lesson about profiting from sports almanacs. But for those of us with a less encyclopedic knowledge of Back to Future II, January 1st probably came and went the same way as it did last year: with a whole host of New Year’s resolutions we’ll get bored of by President’s Day.
Yes, January is the month where your class at the gym is suddenly sold out and that ring of co-workers around the ashtray seems a bit less packed. And while we’ve all got our own list of personal resolutions, we were curious to see how they stacked up against the crowd at large. What exactly did Americans resolve to do this year? And do men and women make different promises to themselves in January?
We looked at over five thousand tweets to find out just that.
First, we scraped Twitter for everything with a #NewYearsResolution hashtag. We asked our contributors to identify if those tweets came from real people and then ran a job to classify user’s gender. This left us with 5,011 tweets.
Then we ran a pair of data categorization jobs. The first had contributors classify tweets in general categories, from personal growth to health and fitness to education to finance. Once that was done, we went more granular, focusing on subcategories within those larger groups. For example, in “health and fitness,” the subcategories were things like “stop smoking” or “lose weight” or “eat better.”
Once those categorization jobs were finished, we analyzed the data. Here’s what we found:
Fitter, Happier, More Productive
What we saw from our resolution data was diverse to say the least. While a rather staggering amount of users just wanted to meet One Direction and others just wanted to stop going to Chic-Fil-A so much, there were a handful of resolutions that, frankly, defied categorization.
#NewYearsResolution stop getting hit in the face with shit.
— panda. (@Amanda_Cast_) December 31, 2014
But the thing we really noticed when we asked our contributors to categorize resolutions was how overwhelmingly positive they were. Aside from the jokey tweets about gaining more weight and scarfing more fried candy bars, there were a far higher number of tweets about things that actually matter than about, say, getting a fancier car.
By far, the largest category was “personal growth.” Over a third of all tweets fell into this bucket, with “be more positive” and “improving my attitude” headlining it. In other words, we’re just trying to be nicer this year. Which reminds me: you look great in those pants.
Here’s a data visualization of the most popular categories:
He Tweeted, She Tweeted: The New Year’s Resolution Episode
Men and women, it turns out, are a lot more similar than John Gray would have us believe. You’ll notice in the graph above how most of the major categories are fairly equal, distribution-wise. But there were a few places where the differences were rather glaring.
Take “starting a family,” for instance. Out of all the users that tweeted they’d like to finally become a parent, nearly three out of four were women.
Men, meanwhile, were more focused on their careers. About two thirds of folks who tweeted about getting a new job or a promotion were guys, though men were a bit less likely to try and save money in the new year.
What we found especially interesting was what men and women agreed upon. We all want get in shape. We all want to eat healthier. And we all wanted to spend less time on social media.
What better place to make that resolution than on Twitter?