Rating Farewells to 2020

Using New Year’s Eve Tweets

Ryan Young
3 min readJan 2, 2021
I guess I’m continuing the NY theme. (Sorry?) Photo By: Johnny Milano/New York Times

2020 was an unconventional year and it deserved an unconventional goodbye. Keep your clichés and your “Happy New Year” to yourself.

So before the clock struck 12 last night, I made a short list of potential creative phrases that people would post to social media to usher in 2021. Here were the candidates:

March 307th: It seems like March 2020 has still never ended. This demonstrates some creativity and even commitment to a little math.

December 32nd: This is the lazy version of the previous phrase. Radiates the same level of pessimism but if 2020 is never going to end, why are we just going to keep on extending December?

Hindsight is 2020: There will never be a better time in your life to use this expression. But this is failing to capture any of the essence of 2020 itself.

Good Riddance: Another expression made for this moment. But this lacks creativity and thus there is less of a chance that your post makes an impact.

I scraped Twitter for these phrases (using the rtweet package with R) between 11:30pm EST and 4am EST. This would capture the stroke of midnight across the contiguous states. I did not search for exact phrases, but just the tweets that included the following words:

March & 307th; December & 32nd; hindsight & 2020; good & riddance & 2020.

At first I was stunned by an apparent upset: “hindsight” tweets had a greater peak than “good riddance” tweets? America (even if we’re mainly talking about the east coast) is not that clever.

It may be difficult to tell, but there were actually eight more “good riddance” tweets than “hindsight” tweets at 12:00, but there were 50 more “hindsight” tweets at 12:01 AM (292 in total, the most of any phrase at any minute).

I realized that this was because this chart was including retweets and of course “hindsight is 2020” tweets are going to get more engagement when that was the best minute in history to use that expression.

So I filtered the data to only include original tweets:

Without including retweets, the spikes occur even more distinctly at the top of each hour. It’s no surprise that the 12AM spike is the greatest because of both the east coast population and much of the country still being awake. Let’s give some credit to the mountain time folks though: small in numbers but a good ratio of tweets.

Here’s a look at the totals and engagement:

I am incredibly disappointed by the lack of March 307th tweets.

There were 12 March 308th tweets but unfortunately even with better math those twitter users still would not have made much of a difference. Also, there has only been one tweet ever about “February 336th” and it came this morning. (I even checked in Italian.) Does that say something about how the U.S. has handled this pandemic? Probably not but certainly something to ponder.

At least the uninspired December 32nd tweets put forth the worst performance. And it’s not incredibly surprising that the hindsight tweets won the night. I’m sure there are many people who regret missing their opportunity to use that expression, but as they say… ya know.

Captain Hindsight approves!

Data from Twitter API.

Check out my github for the code behind each post.