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A new study about how men and women use language on social media confirms what we already know: men are jerks.
On Facebook, according to the study, published May 25 in the journal PLoS ONE, “The language most characteristic of self-identified females was warmer, friendlier, and focused on people, whereas self-identified males’ most characteristic language was more socially distant, disagreeable, and focused on objects.”
Researchers analyzed 10 million messages from more than 52,000 Facebook users in two studies, one that looked at differences in “topics” across users and one that tracked “affiliation and interpersonal warmth versus impersonality and coldness, and…assertiveness and dominance versus indirectness and passivity.”
According to the data, men were more likely to talk about money, politics, and work, and they were more likely to swear. Women were more likely to talk about their social life, feelings, and family—and guys named Brandon and Zach.
But the study also showed that women are just as “assertive” as men in their speech; they’re just assertive about warmer and more positive subjects.
Of course, what people choose to post and talk about on social media may be different from what they discuss offline. Still, it’s unsurprising that women tend to present more positive and community-focused personalities on Facebook. Women are taught to be nice and polite and to avoid conflict, whereas men assess each other’s worth based on aggression and routinely devalue each other for showing vulnerability. Consciously or subconsciously, men and women act out these dynamics on Facebook every day.
Jaya Saxena is a lifestyle writer and editor whose work focuses primarily on women's issues and web culture. Her writing has appeared in GQ, ELLE, the Toast, the New Yorker, Tthe Hairpin, BuzzFeed, Racked, Eater, Catapult, and others. She is the co-author of 'Dad Magazine,' the author of 'The Book Of Lost Recipes,' and the co-author of 'Basic Witches.'