Social media is a really fun area to work in because it’s such a new field that one is constantly being surprised by innovations.

Take the Facebook status bar – that field where you type in a short message to let all your friends know what you’ve been up to, how you’re feeling, or your latest news.

On an individual level, it’s a great disseminator of personal information. But just this week, Facebook took a step back and started looking at the status bar on a nationwide level.

It’s Gross National Happiness index analyses wording from status updates throughout the USA (without compromising its users’ privacy, of course), and, depending on the types of words used, comes up with a score for positivity or negativity. Positive words might be those such as the ubiquitous online exclamation ‘Yay!’, while most of us will be all too familiar with the temptation to tell the world how sad or grumpy we are.

So far, the graph tells us that peaks of positivity seem to be seen on national holidays, which, I guess, we could have foreseen. Is this a useful tool, or just a bit of interesting fun? So far, I’d say the latter – but might skilled economists build it into their predictive spending habit forecasts?

If so, I have a handy hint for them. I – like many, I suspect – tend to splurge online when I’m unhappy, not when I’m full of joys. Look for when the ‘Yay’s have bottomed out – and then launch your online shoe sale.