Townies more bitter on Twitter

A study carried out by the Dutch academic Erik Tjong Kim Sang has revealed that tweets sent by people from cities are often more negative than those sent by people from rural areas. The Brussels regional news website reports that people in Flanders' most sparsely populated province Limburg send the happiest and most optimistic tweets. Meanwhile, city-dewellers' tweets are the most negative.

Mr Tjong Kim Sang, a post-doctoral researcher at the Meertens Institute in Amsterdam, put some two billion tweets through a computer programme and analysed them on the basis of the "positive" and "negative" words they contained. The words used included happy, LOL and great (positive) and bad, hate and f*ck (negative).

More positive tweets than negative ones

The study found that we Flemings send more positive than negative tweets. However, there were big differences between the various parts of our region. In a nutsell, tweets sent from rural areas tended to be more jovial than those sent from urban areas.

The social-geographer Eric Corijn of Dutch-language Brussels Free University told that "In cities there tend to be more sources of tension that can lead to expression of irritation and frustration. There are more people living and working close together, greater diversity and more traffic congestion".

People in Limburgers and West Flanders send the least bitter tweets, while those living in East Flanders and Flemish Brabant are the least jovial when expressing their views on Twitter.

Mr Tjong Kim Sang is keen to stress that the results of his study are not representative of the population as a whole and that the number of people using Twitter is quite limitted.

Furthermore, the study only analysed tweets where the writer's location was given.