The Geography of Gratitude

What Americans in every state are thankful for, according to Facebook

What are you thankful for?

For Facebook users who recently passed around a status-update game, the answer was pretty clear: friends, family, and health.

The analysis was released Tuesday by the Facebook data science team. It examined the aggregated results of a popular status message passed among friends earlier this year. For instance, one status said, “write three things you are thankful for over the next five days” and was tagged with friends who should respond.

Think of it as an ice bucket challenge of gratitude.

What Facebook Users Were Most Thankful For

These answers, it should be noted, represent America’s women much better than they represent America’s men. Ninety percent of the participants in the status game were female. (All of the users analyzed were English-speaking Americans.)

The team also analyzed what each state was most distinctively grateful for:

What Each State Is Most Thankful For

(Here’s a higher-resolution version of that image.)

In its post, the team drew out a few interesting trends: how many southwestern states mention the rain, how much of the southeast thanks the Christian faith. They even noted how many states mention social media. (Though, really, California and Virginia: YouTube? Really?!)

What strikes me in the above map is the subtler ways state residents account for the uniqueness of where they live. Many northeast states are grateful for the beach, or being near it. In Wisconsin, “thunderstorms” are the most distinctively popular thing*. Perhaps these are the afternoon thunderstorms which roil through the Midwestern summer day. And Hawaiians and Louisianans—two states that sometimes face tropical storms—are thankful for rainbows.

These data dumps—about football and romantic relationships—are always interesting, partly because they reveal what Facebook can glimpse of our lives. While we may be happy to share our gratitude with the public, we should use this as an opportunity to consider what else we are sharing.

* This post originally stated “thunderstorms” were the favorite of Minnesota’s. We regret the error.