Census data is pretty standard stuff. It’s useful for decision-makers but doesn’t come close to saying much about who we are, what we care about, or how we’d like others to see us.
Media artist Roger Luke DuBois has found another method of measuring these variables. He created a 2010 U.S. “census” using information from 21 dating sites, relying entirely on words people use to describe themselves and the partners they hope to attract. He used online dating profiles of 19,095,414 Americans to create state-by-state maps, replacing city names with over 20,000 descriptive terms . Each word appears where it is used more frequently than anywhere else in the country, meaning each city is represented by a unique word.
I live in a place too small to be represented, but if I’m reading the map correctly, it appears my township lies somewhere between “smothered” and “aloof.” Not sure if I should meditate on these terms for some personal guidance or just look more kindly at folks passing by, but I have to say based on the DuBois’ shyness map, these terms are indeed regionally relevant.