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Facebook Status Updates: Family (#5) and Religion (#15)

posted by Esther Kustanowitz

What’s “Memology”? If you’re an avid Facebook user, you may already know that the term “refers to the study of how ‘memes,’ or new ideas and trends, are spreading on Facebook.” One area of concentration by Facebook’s data analysis team (as reported in the Facebook blog) focuses on the status update, and what terms appear in those updates the most. While the #1 spot belonged to discussion of Facebook’s numerous applications (like the annoying-yet-popular Farmville), also among this year’s 15 most highly ranked terms were family-themed and religious-based updates.
facebookstatus2009.jpgOne of the factors undoubtedly is the influx of Facebook users from an older age group. The report noted the reason for the repetition of specific family-oriented words like “family,” “mom,” “dad,” “son,” “daughter,” and “kids”:

As Facebook becomes more prevalent across demographics, people talk more about “mom,” “dad,” “son” and “daughter”. We saw significant increases in all sorts of family-related words during 2009. Perhaps the most dramatic increase was “kids,” a word whose occurrence went up by a factor of five.

As for religion, specific words included “Easter,” “Lord,” and “God”:

Religious terms increased a significant amount in the last year. In the last 6 months, there was a noticeable upward trend in occurrences of “Lord” and “God.” While “Easter” occurs infrequently most of the time, the Easter Sunday spike from 2009 is about 30 percent higher than it was in 2008.

While these two pieces of data do show that family and religion factor into the daily life of Facebook users, it’s also worth noting that between “Facebook applications” at #1 and “family” at #5, are “FML” (a website bemoaning bad things that happen, all of which are concluded with FML – which means “expletive my life”), “Swine Flu” and “Celebrity Deaths.” And, at the bottom of the list, beating religion’s #15 at #14 is Lady Gaga. So in the competition for society’s attention, pop culture seems to be maintaining its lead over religion and family, at least for now.



  • Alex

    what a strange angle you bring to this. Religion is 14th out of 15 topics on the list, and you STILL put a positive spin on the story. Religion means nothing to most people. Get a life (in this world).

  • Anon

    gah it’s not like religion’s a good thing
    it’s the thing that ends the roman empire (read gibbons, the decline and fall of the roman empire)
    it’s the thing that makes people think that evolution isn’t true
    it’s the thing that makes radical extremists
    it’s the thing that makes those crazy crusaders
    it’s the thing that divides the world. anyway, 14 out of 15 in rank is pretty popular.
    just saying…

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