The answer: just before spring break ("spring cleaning") and just before Christmas (an easy way, presumably, to save on gifts). There's also a small spike every Monday - "coming out of very bad weekends," McCandless speculates - and, strangely, on April Fool's Day too - a surprising sense, which T. S. Eliot almost certainly didn't have in mind, in which April is the cruelest month.
The summer months, by contrast, are relatively safe, as is Christmas Day, when there's the lowest number of breakups all year. McCandless and his collaborator Lee Bryon made the chart by scraping 10,000 Facebook status updates for phrases like "broken up." As McCandless points out, this is data that just wasn't available a few years ago. Today it's publicly available to anyone with some basic programming skills - fertile soil, as he says, for creative visualization.
McCandless is basically the creative, hip, witty information design love-child of Edward Tufte and Hans Rosling; he has a new book, The Visual Miscellaneum, out this month, and you can watch him walk through many of his best charts, including great visualizations about money, health, and politics, in his TED talk:
Image from McCandless's blog, Information Is Beautiful.
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Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.
Guest blogger Simon Waxman is Managing Editor of Boston Review and has written for WBUR, Alternet, McSweeney's, Jacobin, and others.
Guest blogger Elizabeth Manus is a writer living in New York City. She has been a book review editor at the Boston Phoenix, and a columnist for The New York Observer and Metro.
Guest blogger Sarah Laskow is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She edits Smithsonian's SmartNews blog and has contributed to Salon, Good, The American Prospect, Bloomberg News, and other publications.
Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."
Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.
Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.