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Syria Or Twerking? Tweeting Habits Serve As Evidence Of Washington's Wonkiness

Washington, D.C. has a reputation as the sort of place that's hyper-educated and overly engaged in all things policy; for every happy hour where people speak about sports, there are probably five where they're chatting about the federal deficit or foreign aid.

Now there's research proving just how wonky Washington can be.

Researchers at Floating Sheep, which studies geo-coded data, recently found that Twitter users in the nation's capital were much more likely to tweet about Syria than about twerking, a style of dancing commonly linked to African Americans and recently appropriated by Miley Cyrus in a controversial performance.

"One of the most compelling results is the clear difference in ratios for Washington D.C., which has three times as many Syria tweets as twerking tweets, bucking the national average which is three to one in the opposite direction," says the group, which studied geo-coded tweets from July 1 to September 11.

All told, twerking seemed to attract more attention than Syria across the country, with 775,000 geocoded tweets mentioning twerking compared to just 75,000 citing Syria. Alaska and Vermont had equal number of tweets on both, while the rest of the country was between two and four times more likely to share 140-character opinions on twerking than Syria.

The group dug in further, though, and found that when it looked more closely at the county and city level, the picture looks a little bit better for wonky tweeting—parts of San Francisco, for one, saw more Syria tweets than twerking ones, and even more than D.C., too.

What does this all mean? Well, it's complicated, but it might have to do with social and cultural trends in different parts of the country.

"Far from a simple unitary meaning, the use of both twerking and Syria on Twitter are complicated expressions of cultural and political expression in the U.S., relating these locations both to particular regional cultures within the country and particular geopolitical configurations that span the globe," says the group.

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