A recent psychological study tracked close to 1,300 U.S. counties and about 280 million Americans, and compared rates of heart disease to the number of hostile tweets coming from those areas. The result was a staggeringly consistent relation between the volume and frequency of negative tweets and an increased risk of heart disease. How strong is the correlation? Strong enough that mean tweets are a significantly more accurate model for predicting cardiac complications than smoking, diabetes, hypertension, and obesity combined -- and those used to be the gold standard for figuring out when people's hearts would explode.
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But it's not as simple as people who write negative tweets being more likely to die of heart disease. The more negative tweets that occur in a specific geographic region, the greater the rate of heart disease for the entire county. After all, digitally savvy hatemongers aren't the ones who are dying of cardiac failure in those places -- they're often too young for that. And heartless.
This has led the study's authors to believe that "if many of your neighbors are angry, you are more likely to die of heart disease." This would mean that hate and hostility infect people as fast as an actual airborne virus -- sometimes with the same lethal consequences. Tracking Twitter trolls could thus be the easiest way of monitoring these Patient Zeroes for the stress, negativity, and pure unpleasantness that causes other people's hearts to shut down.
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