Facebook and America’s Social Geography

Travel Blog  •  Eva Holland  •  02.09.10 | 12:45 PM ET

Here’s a fascinating map put together by PeteSearch, showing the regional connections between America’s Facebook users. The data creates some unexpected clusters and movement patterns: For instance, users in the northeastern states—dubbed “Stayathomia”—tend to have more local and fewer long-range connections, while users in the “Nomadic West” generally have more far-flung friendship networks. (Via Kottke)

Eva Holland is co-editor of World Hum. She is a former associate editor at Up Here and Up Here Business magazines, and a contributor to Vela. She's based in Canada's Yukon territory.

4 Comments for Facebook and America’s Social Geography

Reannon 02.09.10 | 5:53 PM ET

This is fascinating!  Thank you so much for sharing this…I knew there was a reason that I never fully fit in in the North East.  As someone who loves to travel and who’s lived abroad, I always felt so different from my friends in “stayathomia”...and now I know why.  I used to think that maybe it was just my friends who never ventured anywhere…but now I know that it’s the whole region!  I’m definitely glad I made the move to the “Nomadic West”. 

Seriously, thanks for this.

TambourineMan 02.10.10 | 3:45 AM ET

“For example, a lot of people in LA have friends in San Francisco”

Not this Dodgers fan.

Darrin 02.10.10 | 5:36 PM ET

Numerical statistics can be interpreted in many ways.  And this interesting map shows that spatial data can also be interpreted in different ways as well.  PeteSearchís conclusions suggest that people in the Northeast and other regions donít like to travel. 

This is questionable for a number of reasons.

Even PeteSearch admits that his assumption of stay-at-home-ness of the Northeast is *not* based on the regionís large cities.  And when he did mention New Yorkís connection to LA, he dismissed it because it was only one of 10 top connections.  He failed to take into account the total number of connections per person.  It could be that people in one region have more connections than those other regions, and when all (or at least most) of the connections are looked at, a city could be much more connected than is shown in his map.

PeteSearch also failed to mention how well-connected the large cities of the West Coast and Northeastern coastal cities are to each other.  Or perhaps he ignored this information just so he could name California a separate, arbitrary region called ďSocialistan.Ē 

Worse yet, the coast-to-coast lines crossing over many middle states may give credence to the idea that those states are indeed flyover states.  (Thatís a different interpretation of the spatial data for you.)

His suggestion that longer links indicate more relocation is reasonable, but it simply doesnít follow that people in cities with shorter links do not like to travel.  He might, with more investigation (exploring more connections than the top 10), gain some traction with an argument about *domestic* travel patterns.  But this map does not take into account connections to foreign countries.  When PeteSearch claims that residents of so-and-so state donít have too many long links to other US states in their top 10, and therefore they donít like to travel, I have to question his methodology.

Overall, though, his map is a refreshing new way to look at the US.

joseph 02.16.10 | 10:15 AM ET

oh nice stuff i feel it will helpful for traveling people thank you for sheering this in this blog i want some more information about this i like to travel aboard,waiting for your updates

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