Travel Farther To Be Happier, Says Science

In a new study conducted at the University of Vermont, researchers have discovered that the farther you are from home, the happier you are. The BBC reports that social scientists mined data from 37 million geotagged tweets sent by 180,000 people to determine the correlation between happiness and travel, in a science that The New York Times calls “twitterology.”

Tweeters’ happiness was determined by the frequency of positive words (“beach,” “beautiful,” “amazing,” etc.) and negative words (“no,” “can’t,” “never,” and so on) in their tweets. Some words carried more positive or negative weight than others. The researchers then compiled the data to give a measure of happiness based on a scale they call the hedonometer.

As it turns out, the farther people had traveled from their centralized location, which the researchers took to be the average between work and home, the happier were their tweets. Moreover, those who traveled farther afield on average were happier than all the others.

Despite the seemingly obvious correlation found in the results, the study pointed out that happiness might simply be correlated to a higher socioeconomic status. Those who can travel far and wide usually have the money and time to do so, after all.

But there’s also the question of whether we really are tweeting our genuine feelings when we’re traveling. Personally, I’ve never seen someone say that they are “col” – crying out loud – in my feed, while the lol-ers run rampant. I’ve met travelers who have been hit by cars, had every piece of their gear stolen and who have been caught in natural disasters, and they tend to put a positive spin on it, at least in social media. And just glance at the examples of the “13 Travel Tweeters That Drive Us Crazy” to witness the unmitigated affected gaiety. But we know that happy people deal with hardships better, so perhaps this preponderance of positivity is support for the findings after all?

[Photo Credit: nan palmero]

Survey Names America’s 8 Best Lakes

Lake Tahoe In an effort to find out what the best lakes across the United States are, USA Today conducted a survey to allow travelers to weigh in on the subject. The poll generated over 5,000 votes on Twitter and Facebook, and named Lake Tahoe as America’s best lake.

The survey listed 15 finalists, chosen by regional magazine editors.

Says Laura Bly of USA Today, “While we took some heat for ignoring the five Great Lakes, our intention was to spotlight some of the USA’s smaller, less famous summer getaways.”

However, even Lake Tahoe nominator Peter Fish of Sunset admits the destination is already loved by many. According to him, this lake, which straddles the California-Nevada border “draws a gazillion” tourists on weekends who use it as a summer escape.

Michigan’s Lake Charlevoix was runner up, followed by Alabama’s Lake Martin, Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks and North Carolina’s Lake Lure. There were also many votes for New York’s Blue Mountain Lake, New Hampshire’s Newfound Lake and Washington’s Lake Crescent.

What’s your favorite lake in the United States?


[Above image via Sascha Bruck; Gallery images via Big Stock, Mwanner, Kiwiowner, Lake Martin Voice, Kms5333]

Learn a new language, and the Silbo Gomero

I recently had the opportunity of meeting the co-founder of a new language-learning website called “Busuu”. Busuu is a language on the verge of extinction; apparently today it’s spoken by only 8 people in Cameroon. Other than that cool snippet of information, I didn’t pay much attention to the website until I got an email saying that it will teach you how to do the whistle “Gomero”, i.e. the Silbo Gomero.

The Silbo Gomero is a whistle that is (was?) used to communicate in Gomero, in the Canary Islands. People who know this language can communicate full sentences through this whistle, and since it can be heard up to a distance of 8 kilometers, it used to be an extremely useful way of communicating across the deep alleys and mountains of the island.(Voice can only travel 200 meters). It used to be a recognised language, but now since there are few people who can whistle this way and it’s not an easy whistle to learn, this “language” faces the threat of extinction.

Busuu aims to help preserve such languages that are under threat of disappearing, and their proactiveness towards trying to help users understand and learn this whistle is commendable. The fact that you are far from learning the whistle after looking at their material is a different point, but if they are planning to expand on such efforts, this is a great start. Here you can check out a great video they did that explores the hows and whats of this Silbo Gomero.

This whole learning the Silbo Gomero tactic could well be a publicity stunt for Busuu, but worth it if it drives traffic to this new and cool language-exchange/learning-community. The website is easy to navigate and presents a community-driven language learning system. Become a member and you can add study modules and attempt to familiarize yourself with a new language, with the option of being helped by native speakers of the language you want to learn. It all works on a system of mutual help, so it’s pretty cool to see it function well. Right now they offer opportunities to study English, French, Spanish, and German. Although you may not learn the language in any concrete or complete way, it’s a good place to start and to meet some multi-lingual people.

Do you suffer from nomophobia?

Hot off the heels of my article yesterday in which I reported that 35% of those interviewed would pick their phone over their spouse, I was listening to the BBC this morning and heard about a new phobia called “nomophobia”.

Nomophoiba is the fear of being without your mobile phone. (No Mobile Phobia). Apparently some of us are now so scared to be anywhere without our phone that it can give us jitters that are “on par with going to the dentist”.

According to a study commissioned by the Post Office in the UK, 53% of people feel nervous when they are unable to stay in touch, either because they left their phone at home, lost their phone, are outside the network coverage area or because they ran out of call credit on their prepaid phone service.

While I should be laughing at this study, it actually does make more sense than you’d think; the mobile phone has become an integral part of our lives. In the past, we could walk up to a payphone or simply wait a few hours, but the urge to stay in touch with others has become so great that I’m probably a nomophobe myself. Great. I wonder if my health insurance covers this?

So, let me ask you; do you suffer from nomophobia?


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