Tweets and Emotions

This animation is dedicated to my advisor Upmanu Lall, who’s been so supportive of all my many projects, including this one! Prabhat Barnwal and I have been studying the effects of Hurricane Sandy on the New York area through the lens of twitter emotions, ever since we propitiously began collecting tweets a week before the storm emerged (see the working paper).

The animation shows every geolocated tweet in between October 20 and November 5, across much of the Northeastern seaboard– about 2 million tweets in total.

Each tweet is colored based on our term-usage analysis of its emotional content. The hue reflects happiness, varying from green (happy) to red (sad), greyer colors reflect a lack of authority, and darker colors reflect a lack of engagement. The hurricane, as a red circle, jutters through the bottom-left of the screen the night of Oct. 29.

The first thing to notice is how much more tweeting activity there is near the hurricane and the election. Look at the difference between seconds 22 (midnight on Oct. 25) and 40 (midnight on Oct. 30).

The night of the hurricane, the tweets edge toward pastel as people get excited. The green glow near NYC that each night finishes with becomes brighter, but the next morning the whole region turns red as people survey the disaster.

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