I really appreciated Kai Erikson’s descriptions about the layers of human warmth in his book A New Species of Trouble. According to Erikson, “People in society are insulated emotionally, so to speak, by layers of human warmth that surround them like concentric circles” (Erikson 128). Erikson explains that the first of these circles consists of the family niche, the second circle is associated with the immediate neighborhood, and the third includes the wider human community (Erikson 128).
As I browse through the Facebook posts on the “Long Beach, NY Hurricane Sandy Information” Facebook page, I am always impressed by the solidarity that exists among Long Beach friends, family, neighbors, and outside sources. Erikson’s analogy of human warmth as concentric circles truly captures the essence of the interactions in this Facebook page.
I have been responsible for collecting screen captures of the Facebook posts from the end of October through November. Through my screen capturing, I have noticed that the posts embody overlapping circles. While some people post about their family members and friends, others demonstrate their concern for the larger community. There are also many people who are not even Long Beach residents, but express their compassion for anyone affected by Hurricane Sandy.
Those who communicate through this Facebook page consistently articulate their underlying goals: to assist each other and repair their beloved Long Beach. Even though some of these Facebook posts consist of sharing grievances, negative tones do not seem to dominate the conversations within the “Long Beach, NY Hurricane Sandy Information” Facebook page. Instead, I have observed the majority of posts to be optimistic while focusing on sharing information and updates, reminiscing, motivating each other to stay hopeful, and remaining loyal to each other.
Despite these observations, I still have a few questions. Was the community of Long Beach cohesive prior to Hurricane Sandy? Has the communication via Facebook really comforted victims? Does any one circle have a more important role or influence in helping to achieve a state of recovery?
Erikson, Kai. A New Species of Trouble. New York: V. W. Norton & Company Inc., 1994. Print.