Feeling Alone Among 317 Million Others: Disclosures of Loneliness on Twitter

Mahoney, Jamie, Le Moignan, Effie, Long, Kiel, Wilson, Mike, Barnett, Julie, Vines, John and Lawson, Shaun (2019) Feeling Alone Among 317 Million Others: Disclosures of Loneliness on Twitter. Computers in Human Behavior, 98. pp. 20-30. ISSN 0747-5632

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2019.03.024


Increasing numbers of individuals describe themselves as feeling lonely, regardless of age, gender or geographic location. This article investigates how social media users self-disclose feelings of loneliness, and how they seek and provide support to each other. Motivated by related studies in this area, a dataset of 22,477 Twitter posts sent over a one-week period was analyzed using both qualitative and quantitative methods. Through a thematic analysis, we demonstrate that self-disclosure of perceived loneliness takes a variety of forms, from simple statements of “I’m lonely”, through to detailed self-reflections of the underlying causes of loneliness. The analysis also reveals forms of online support provided to those who are feeling lonely. Further, we conducted a quantitative linguistic content analysis of the dataset which revealed patterns in the data, including that ‘lonely’ tweets were significantly more negative than those in a control sample, with levels of negativity fluctuating throughout the week and posts sent at night being more negative than those sent in the daytime.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Twitter, loneliness, self-disclosure, social media
Subjects: C800 Psychology
G400 Computer Science
P300 Media studies
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Design
Faculties > Engineering and Environment > Computer and Information Sciences
Depositing User: Paul Burns
Date Deposited: 25 Mar 2019 11:27
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2021 13:32
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/38526

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