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Instead of Asking Local Tween, Journalist Creeped 10,000 Facebook Profiles to Produce Riveting Study


Instead of checking with a local tween, a British journalist creeped 10,000 Facebook profiles to figure out when couples are most likely to break-up. How can you avoid finding yourself included in a future study?

Valentine's Day breakups
A British journalist creeped 10,000 Facebook profiles to find out couples often breakup right after Valentine's Day.

by Carson Abrir

After months of creeping more than 10,000 Facebook profiles in search of the phrases “breakup” and “broken up,” a British journalist discovered what many youngsters know by middle school: the period immediately following Valentine’s Day is the biggest of the year when it comes to romantis interruptis.

Guys and gals alike have long awaited the chance of “getting to know” the classmate who was just recently dating someone else before succumbing to Valentine’s Day blunders most typical of young lovers.

The experience of failing to meet the unspoken expectations of a significant other at the moment in which every friend will be demanding detailed reports of thoughtful, creative expressions of love has had school kids changing lunch tables for decades. Hint to avoid getting caught in the footnotes of a future study: Ask your sweetheart what she wants or do your own careful investigation to discover what’s really important to your special angel.

The thought of David McCandless, the British journalist and graphic designer who conducted the study, spending thousands of hours stealthing his way through personal Facebook profiles instead of checking with a neighborhood tween may say more about the need to get the world back to work then the pursuit of knowledge.

Interestingly, the organizers of the prestigious TED conference that promises “riveting talks by remarkable people” disagreed. The study was a highlight of the group’s annual gathering in Oxford. As organizers prepare for their 2011 meeting in Palm Springs, here are five similarly riveting ideas to consider:

  1. Presentation on the $9.3 million Harvard College project to design and develop a “coordinated colony of robotic bees.”
  2. Participant reports from Dartmouth College’s study of “sexual arousal in anesthetized female rats.”
  3. Round table on the University of Buffalo’s analysis of the outcomes of the concurrent and separate use of malt liquor and marijuana.
  4. Robotic report on Northwestern University’s “machine-generated humor“ project to design artificially intelligent “comedic performance agents.”
  5. Interactive session on the research grant awarded to design better video games for senior citizens based on their unique “game-play needs.”
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