Saturday, January 16, 2016

Weeping over Polar Bears: The Data

In the ten thousand or so tweets that I’ve examined over the past month on the topic of “polar bears,” 17 of them make a reference to crying or weeping. For example, @tayloretc tweeted: “I started crying about polar bears this morning.” @hashbrownhalsey wrote “*starts crying over polar bears in 6th period*”

Polar bears come to mind and seventeen people weep.

At times a fit of weep was induced by the cuteness of these predatory animals: @heyoitskaymo “spent the last 40 minutes crying while looking at pictures of baby polar bears.” Or, to quote another instance @emmiemmibobemmi wrote “watching a video about polar bears* "oh! It's so cute! It just makes me wanna cry!"

More often than not it was the conservation plight of the polar bears that provoked concern. @sofiagetler tweeted “i also started crying in chapel because i thought about polar bears going extinct.” @gillianmoll wrote “a guy in my cultures class talked about his friends being able to poach polar bears and they send him teeth and I started crying in class.”

Those who conjectured about the cause of these conservation concerns more often than not alluded to climate change. @lilianadiaz187 wrote “just remembered there are like... polar bears dying bc the ice caps are melting now I'm crying again help me.” Other examples include: @deedzzzzzz when u dont wanna do hw so u look up what the affects of this wild warm weather are on the polar bears and u cry bc population decline 20%.”

The consistency of tweeters weeping over polar bears, for all the reasons alluded to above, over the course of the month is impressive. A few weeps a week.

It may be that weeping over polar bears could serve as a useful, if informal metric, with which to evaluate public concern over climate change. So far I have not found tweets that mentioned weeping over soil organisms, or the condition of ecosystems more generally.

More on this topic soon. 

No comments:

Post a Comment