Communities in Trauma: Disclosure, Disinhibition, and Desensitization on Social Media

Speaker  Munmun De Choudhury

Affiliation  Georgia Tech

Host  Eric Horvitz

Duration  01:00:52

Date recorded  27 February 2014

Millions of people undergo traumatic experiences annually, ranging from personal crises to those that are societal or collective. While acute distress is a normative response to trauma, a small percent of the people who have undergone such experiences continue to exhibit severe stress reactions long after the trauma. This talk presents some findings on the nature of disclosure that is manifested in social media by communities embroiled in personal and collective trauma. In a first study, we examine the affective responses in Twitter experienced in communities embroiled in an armed conflict and how they might indicate desensitization to violence. For the purpose, we specifically focus on the communities inflicted by the protracted drug war in Mexico. In a second study, we study disclosure and disinhibition in the light of dissociative anonymity in mental illness communities on the social media reddit. Our findings, spanning the two studies, reveal the kind of unique information needs that social media might be fulfilling when it comes to experiences of trauma. They also expand our understanding of the role of the social web in behavioral therapy, and the impact of post-traumatic stress on civic engagement.

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