Changes in Social Media Affect, Disclosure, and Sociality for a Sample of Transgender Americans in 2016’s Political Climate
In the wake of 2016’s divisive political climate in the US, media reports indicated that vulnerable people, such as the transgender population, may be experiencing lower than normal rates of emotional wellbeing. To test these claims, we analyzed social media linguistic markers of affect, disclosure, and sociality in late 2016 as compared to the same month a year prior in a sample of US Tumblr blogs documenting people’s gender transitions. We find that both negative and positive affect, and words related to anger in particular, increased for trans women in 2016. At the same time, social words used to describe family and friends decreased for trans people, indicating that they may have interacted less with family and friends in late 2016. Self-disclosure decreased in 2016, potentially indicating increased political language vs. personal content, or self-censorship in response to a hostile political environment. Results highlight ways large scale external political events may impact how people communicate and disclose on social media. Additionally, our results indicate that social media data could also be used to identify those most in need of mental wellbeing resources in response to a hostile political climate.