Breaking up is hard to do – and when it’s a messy, public breakup on Facebook complete with furious un-tagging and bitterly dividing up your friends list into “mine” and “yours”, it’s especially hard. Some interesting stats from journalist and infographics designer David McCandless point out that while an embarrassing Facebook breakup might not always be easy, there are ways to predict when it’s likely to happen. And, since knowledge is power, maybe knowing when can help steel your heart so that fateful day when you suddenly log on to find your relationship status is “single” doesn’t hurt so much.
McCandless presented the following infographic at a TED talk that you can watch on Youtube:
He and Lee Byron scraped 10,000 Facebook status updates for the words “break up” and “broken up”. When displayed in the above infographic timeline, they found some pretty interesting trends about when people are most likely to break up with someone on Facebook.
The two peak times are during spring break, and two weeks before Christmas. We can imagine the reasons why these are the most common times people break up: spring break is a time of youthful abandon, and it might be a downer for some college students if they’re tied to a relationship while partying in the sun. And two weeks before Christmas means that you don’t have to go through awkward “meet the family” events throughout the holiday season with a lukewarm flame.
Aside from some interesting socio-cultural analysis, these two peak times tell us something about the Facebook user base too – they are likely younger, and many celebrate Christmas. Younger, because spring break is really only a notable holiday for high school and college students, and we can assume they celebrate Christmas because of their tendency to want to avoid baggage during the winter holidays.
The data also shows us the least likely time someone will break up with their former partner: Christmas day. Possibly, as McCandless suggests, because it’s simply “too cruel” to do that to someone on December 25th, and possibly because they are simply too busy with family events to log on to Facebook.
And one final note about the Facebook breakup infographic: Mondays are the most popular day of the week for online breakups. We think it’s a result of some drama or bad dates over the weekend, but there are any number of reasons why the first day of the work week is also the most likely day you’ll get the news that they’re just not into you.