The idea of Blue Monday dates back to a 2005 campaign by Sky Travel. The company wanted to encourage people to take January vacations, so they reached out to Arnall, who developed his equation to find the most depressing day of the year.
Media, the public, and even other companies latched onto the idea. A U.K. group started a website dedicated to “beating Blue Monday.” Another group, bluemonday.org, encourages acts of kindness on the date.
Scientists, however, say there is no evidence that Blue Monday causes any more sadness than other specific days of the year. Burnett has been outspoken on the topic, publishing multiple blogs in The Guardian dedicated to dispelling the myth…
Burnett blames slow January news cycles, general post-holidays discontent, and “confirmation bias” for the term’s endurance.
“(People) feel down at this time of year, and the Blue Monday claim makes it seem like there are scientific reasons for this,” Burnett said in an email exchange. “It also breaks down a very complex issue into something easily quantifiable and simple, and that tends to please a lot of people, giving the impression that the world is predictable and measurable.”
This is almost brilliant: come up with an equation (everyone knows equations make things more scientific and true), put it out there in January (dark and cold already), and the media eats it up (every morning show host ever hates Mondays). And the scientific data? Lacking.
That said, it would be intriguing to more into mass societal emotions around different times of the year. Is Christmas an excuse for many just to be happy for a month between Thanksgiving and the end of the year? I remember seeing a suggestion from someone that we should move Christmas later, perhaps to the middle of January, so we can enjoy the Thanksgiving high a bit longer before being pressed into another holiday. Or, what about those arguments that we need a national holiday the day after the Super Bowl? Given the amount of interaction people today have with the mass media (something like eleven hours of media consumption a day on average), couldn’t publicly displayed emotions have some effect on how we feel? Perhaps this has little or no effect compared to the effect of the emotions from the people nearby on us in our social networks.