5.1 Expressions of Resilience: Personal Responses to an Extreme Weather Event

Tuesday, 14 January 2020: 1:30 PM
153B (Boston Convention and Exhibition Center)
Ashley A. Anderson, Colorado State Univ., Fort Collins, CO
Manuscript (198.8 kB)

How individuals in communities respond to the toll of extreme weather events involves understanding how they form resilience. In response to changes in their communities and ecological systems following an extreme weather event, individuals might seek out information, tap a network of people who help respond to an adverse event, or cultivate positive emotional and psychological responses. These forms of individual resilience are separate from, but within, community resilience that occurs following such events. This study explores whether and how people communicate, or express, individual- and community-level forms of resilience following an extreme weather event.

Using a collection of tweets that occurred during and for two months after a major regional flooding event in Colorado in 2013, this study uses content analysis to analyze portrayals of both community-level and individual-level resilience in social media conversations. Preliminary results show evidence for relational portrayals of community resilience, including information sharing, reliance on network ties, and building community. There is little evidence for individual-level portrayals of resilience, with these discussions primarily expressing negative emotions. Expressions of cognitive and emotional stability, use of humor, and downplaying negative emotions were not as prevalent. This study suggests that while mediated discussions following a weather event are an important part of developing community resilience, individuals in those communities may not be developing personal resilience as quickly. While social media conversations have been fruitful in generating community resilience, they are less conducive to fostering individual emotional and mental health well-being. The paper concludes with a discussion on how organizations can better foster psychosocial resilience in social media discussions as part of a broader interpersonal communication context that includes face-to-face interactions.

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