Above: Map showing Tweets containing homophobic slurs meant as an insult.
If you didn't already know it, the Boston Marathon tragedy was proof that while Twitter can be wonderful and supportive and informative, it's also often a pretty hateful place. We used to like to think that kind of bigotry was exclusive to anonymous comments, but that's just not true anymore. Still, some of us might like to assume that all those 140-character jerks are living in some terrible, unenlightened place far, far away from the shining, equality-loving cities and towns we know. But no. They are everywhere.
These maps, compiled with the help of an algorithm as well as human investigation into some 150,000 Tweets, show just how common that kind of hatred is — if you're living in the Eastern half of the country, that is. Oddly enough, it seems to barely touch the West. The researchers looked for negative uses of derogatory terms describing a broad spectrum of people, from racial groups to the disabled, and the results were dishearteningly widespread.
If you're thinking this can't be right, and perhaps it's based on volume and therefore unfairly skewed to areas with more Twitter users, think again. The methodology includes the following description: "Where there is a larger proportion of negative tweets referencing a particular 'hate word' the region appears red on the map, where the proportion is moderate, the word was used less (although still more than the national average) and appears a pale blue on the map. Areas without shading indicate places that have a lower proportion of negative tweets relative to the national average."
So, yeah. This is terrible and depressing. Explore the full, interactive map here and read more about the project on Floating Sheep. Let's all click over to Twitter right now and send out the most loving, inclusive, happy messages we possibly can, and maybe we can tip the scales in favor of happiness, just a bit. (Fast Co. Create)
Above: Map showing Tweets containing the word "nigger" meant as an insult, which we chose because of its shocking prevalence above all other racial slurs included in this research.
Images: Via FloatingSheep.org.