Human Warmth in Long Beach

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?

Below, I have attached some images of Facebook posts to portray Long Beach’s concentric circles. I blurred out the names of Facebook users to respect their confidentiality.Image




October30-30 copy



Erikson, Kai. A New Species of Trouble. New York: V. W. Norton & Company Inc., 1994. Print.



  1. Nice post, can you talk more about these circles? How can you see them specifically in these posts? What circles are represented in the posts you shared with us? What layer do you think seems to be the most helpful or the most comforting? How can you begin to answer the questions you posed? Sorry to reply to your post with so many questions, it just left me wanting to know more! 🙂

  2. While the first and last Facebook posts that I shared qualify as Kai Erikson’s third circle, the wider human community, the second and third posts represent the circle that is associated with the immediate neighborhood. Because I am not a victim of Hurricane Sandy, I have trouble pinpointing which circle would be the most helpful. However, I would assume that the circles involving the immediate neighborhood and the larger community are the most comforting or reassuring. Even though some families are better connected than others, people often expect families to support each other. I think that receiving support from neighbors is especially comforting because everyone is experiencing a similar situation and is confirming their commitment to each other as well as to rebuilding their neighborhood. At the same time, though,it must be refreshing when external sources are sympathetic and offer to provide assistance.

    I am not entirely sure how to answer the questions that I posed. I would most likely need to have more information about Long Beach through personal accounts. However, I can try to answer the last question that I asked about concentric circles and recovery. While I believe that all of the circles need to be interacting in order to achieve recovery, I think that the wider human community is especially beneficial as it provides clean clothes, food, transportation etc.

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monica byrne

novelist . playwright . traveler . futurist . feminist


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