Facebook Says You’ll Break Up Before Spring Break

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You know what would be handy? A place where say a half-billion people could record the activity of their daily lives, their highs and lows, where lots of other people could see it. That way, interested observers might be able to detect patterns in human behavior. Oh, wait, we have it. It’s Facebook. 

David McCandless, a bespectacled British designer and author, gave a TED talk in July in Oxford on data visualization, his specialty. Working with information guru Lee Byron he scraped more than 10,000 status updates of apparently privacy averse Facebook users for the words “break up” or “broken up.” And he found some distinct patterns in Dumpsville. (More on 5 Little-Known Truths About American Sex Lives)

What he discovered:
*People like to start Spring Break and, to a lesser degree, their summer vacations, single
*Most breakups are announced on a Monday, perhaps after one of those last straw weekends
*There are fewest splits on Christmas Day, but there’s a peak just before Christmas, maybe so people don’t have to buy their ex-to-be a gift.

You can see the graph here. But remember Facebook is not exactly a representative sample; another recent study has suggested that people who spend more than a hour a day on social networks or post a lot of photos or boasting status updates can tend toward low self-esteem and narcissism. Not exactly great date material. (More on Can an iPhone App Save Your Marriage?)

For those who like this kind of stuff — and who doesn’t? — McCandless also has an amazing infographic on the varieties of intimate relationships. Check out the diminishing marriage-divorce continuum!

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