Stuyvesant, Horace Mann, my own Upper East Side brick prison (Hunter College High School)– all breeding grounds of dead-eyed, ofttimes socially awkward graduates who sometimes like to argue about whose school was hardest. While we may disagree about that until death, a new study reports: Hunter is the saddest.
Suck on that, Stuy.
Researchers at the New England Complex Systems Institute are using Twitter to map the emotions of people in New York City. Some results are fairly obvious: Central Park and the Botanical Gardens are two of the happiest places, while Penn Station, the Midtown Tunnel, and JFK airport are among the saddest, though it really should be no surprise that the place that takes first prize in that department is my high school: Hunter College High School. We beat the cemeteries. Sure, what we won at isn’t something at which most people want to win, but hell, we just like winning.
The data was taken the week after students returned from vacation, so while it makes sense that students as a whole were more depressed, why Hunter, specifically? That’s the real question, though it’s possible that designing a school to look like a medieval armory, with more historical accuracy in the lack of windows than was strictly necessary, played a small part.
While it seems human impulse to complain, and do so frequently, I wouldn’t actually have thought Hunter students were sadder than everyone else. There was a time when students at a nearby girl’s school all went on a cranberry juice diet, and all the delis in the neighborhood ran out of cranberry juice. Seriously. Shouldn’t the people stuck drinking nothing but one kind of juice be the sad ones?
But honestly. Come on, guys, my class (which graduated a full three years ago) wasn’t nearly this whiny. Wildly competitive? Yes. Chronic insomniacs and caffeine addicts? Sure. Prone to ditching class as second semester seniors while chilling literally feet from the classroom door? …Well, yes. But the most unhappy kids in the city? Not so much.
So really, what is there to take from this study. People are generally happier in parks than in high school? Yes, but also that we should maybe spend a little bit more time in those parks and gardens and a little less time bemoaning our (likely fairly fortunate) lot on Twitter.
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