Fun in the Sun: The UK’s Heatwave
The UK has been hit by a heatwave this summer, with some people enjoying it more than others. Analyst Stevie Wong explores what social media data tells us about people’s reaction to this heat.
Throughout the Winter months, the amount of people that I heard yearning for the Summer heat to arrive was incredible. Meanwhile, I was more than content to be bunched up in my sweater and duvet sipping a nice cup of tea, whilst many called me crazy for believing that the UK cold weather could possibly be better than the scorching sunny heat.
That was until July 2018 arrived to cast its conversional magic, making people who once soaked up the summer sun turn into sun-loathing social media warriors (in which I can whole-heartedly relate to). In response to this, I decided to analyse the temperatures in July just to see what the data would show me and if any trends occurred between the averages of daily highest and lowest temperatures and number of social media posts. This is what I saw:
Average of highest (top) and lowest (bottom) temperatures during the day across the month of July. Darker shade of blue represents cooler temperatures whereas darker shades of red represents hotter temperature.
Graph demonstrating the average of each day’s highest and lowest temperature.
From these charts, we can see that July 26this the hottest day on average thus far by a clear margin, averaging at approximately 29.3°C with a peak temperature of 34°C. Taking this information, I looked at whether there would be a peak in social media posts within the London area and to no one’s surprise in the office, there was: and it was a rather distinct one:
After this discovery, I decided to take matters into my own hands to do some social media research, looking at the general gossip surrounding this London heatwave.
Word cloud demonstrating the most used words surrounding ‘Keeping Cool in London’ on social.
So, as you can see from this ‘top words’ word cloud, Winter is winning. In fact, people are pining for the Winter weather to make its appearance and bless us with its cold winds once again, with results especially spiking on the 26thJuly and dipping to its lowest volume of posts on 11thJuly which had the lowest average for its highest temperatures (20°C):
If you dig a bit deeper into the information, you see the hundreds of Twitter users criticising the humid weather, for example:
“But Stevie!” I hear you cry, “What about the London Transport system? What are people saying about that?”
The infamous Summer London commute. Anyone who commutes to London already knows just how packed the tube and train stations are during peak times, and they definitely know the dreadful equation that we play out in our heads during Summer time:
Summer + People + Train = Hot + Sweat + Small Space = Death + ‘tell my friends I might not make it home’
You understand the more-than-displeasing feel of multiple sweaty bodies next to you are and the lack of already scarce oxygen in the small enclosed space that you are reduced to. Therefore, once again, I decided to take a dive into social media to analyse my fellow Londoners’ opinions of their commute to London (including those who take cars, bikes, walk and the tube/train), and I believe that this word cloud spoke for itself:
The Central Line has won across all parameters measured, in terms of heat, tube population and now adverse social media posts. Whilst we all know about the Central Line’s reputation, there was a specific tweet that was posted on the 23rdJuly, leading to a surge in tweets and retweets regarding the matter from 23rd– 25thJuly:
The Central Line’s announcement of their new air-conditioned tube system in 2030 was met with sarcastic ‘full-of-glee’ comments, with others expressing absolute outrage about having to be “cooked for just another 12 years”. These posts typically generated strong engagements from other fellow commuters, showing just how powerful the Central Line is at getting people to elicit bouts of emotion, with negative mentions regarding the tube’s anticipated improvements having a high level of resonance amongst the London public.
The Central Line – bringing Londoners together since the hot weather.
(atweetby @Londonist provided a map of all the air-conditioned transport systems. Plan ahead!)
So, what are people doing to combat the heat?
In my attempt to find a way to keep cool in this London heat and trying to unlock the secrets of those people who seem to be pristine condition despite the soaring temperatures, I uncovered some social media user tips on how to stay alive and well whilst the heat continues.
Did someone say air-conditioning?
Some people do it the easy way, air conditioning. Online retailer @ao announced on their Twitter account that since the London heatwave, sales for fans, air conditioning and air purifiers have doubled. Hardly any surprise there, as Media Measurement has most probably significantly contributed to those sales (our office is in the heart of this heat crisis).
See all that red? We are suffering!
Cold edibles are all we need.
We all know that we should be drinking eight glasses of water a day, but there is a difference between should and actually doing it. As Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory once very wisely said “if I could, I would, but I can’t so I shan’t”. However, @EatWellBarts suggested that we devour ice cream to keep ourselves of a healthy temperature, and that is definitely something I could, would and should do. It is said that summer bodies are made in the winter, and therefore it only makes sense that winter bodies should be made in the summer.
Or we could always look on the bright side of things
As they say, “always look on the bright side of life”. A popular tweet by @janerobinson00 details how on the 26thJuly in the year 1913, tens of thousands of women reached London for the ‘climax’ of the Great Pilgrimage after travelling for 6 weeks. These women mostly wore tweed, corsets and high boots. If you have never worn a corset, through experience I can tell you that it is near impossible to bend, breathe, move and not sweat. So as the tweet says “spare a thought for them” whilst we are suffering in this heat, because I cannot imagine myself surviving 6 weeks on the road in a corset in a car, let alone on foot. Let us take a moment to be grateful that we can ponder about London in a vest top and shorts.
It’s not only the human race that is suffering.
It’s a given that the heat also has adverse effects on animals, and I’ve seen the story emerge every summer: a person who has left her dogs in the car on a scorching day. According to social media automated searches, posts regarding animals surged by 74% on the 26thJuly, with ‘dogs’ appearing as the most used word.
So, all in all, if you are an owner of a furry four-legged friend, be sure to keep them (and yourself) cool and hydrated.
Whilst the heat of the summer does not seem to be coming to an end any time soon, according to weather reports which claim that there will be heatwaves this weekend, we can all reflect and wait with great anticipation for the winter’s embrace. When the winter does arrive, I will once again be wrapped up in my heavy jumpers and warm blankets, sipping a warm cup of tea.
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