It turns out that the most-shared articles aren’t fluffy clickbait. Generally, they’re pieces that focus on grander themes: kids (“Schools Fail to Train Kids”), extreme wealth and poverty (“The World’s Poorest President,” “The Rich Alarmed by Homeless Jesus”), self-improvement (“What Mentally Strong People Avoid,” “How Not to Say the Wrong Thing”), God (“Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God”), and death (“Dying on Your Own Terms,” “Unmournable Bodies: Those We Kill Unknowingly”). Only some of the most universal aspects of human experience.
The visualization also reveals what types of storytelling are most engaging. Readers shared stories about other people’s lives the most when they were told from an intimate perspective instead of with impersonal statistics—as seen in the story of the life of Dasani, a homeless child from New York City, or a new mother who drove a Mercedes to pick up food stamps. If it’s not a personal, emotionally driven story, then it’s probably useful or service-y (“14 Habits That Drain Your Energy”) or entertaining (“Justin Timberlake Shows Us How Dumb We Sound When We Use Hashtags”).