Soothing the Green Anxiety
A Critical Analysis of Negative Feelings in Social Media Discourses about the Environment
In the last few decades, individuals and communities worldwide have increasingly experienced feelings of anger, anxiety, and frustration concerning environmental issues such as climate change, sustainability, or pollution, and the Covid-19 pandemic has further exacerbated such social fears on a global scale. In this context, popular environmentalist movements, together with other influential individuals, are giving voice to those feelings, offering a safe space for sharing negative emotions, and supporting people with guidance and information through social media. The present study focuses on the discursive construction of negative feelings in social media posts by environmental organisations and eco-conscious people. The term ‘eco-anxiety’ and other relevant keywords are used to assess the presence of eco-anxiety topics in online discourses by looking at recurrent verbal elements and language patterns. While qualitative Critical Discourse Analysis is the privileged methodology, the analysis adopts the Hogg’s scale for eco-anxiety measurement to investigate the sense of urgency and negativity shared by social media users. The analysis is reinforced by data obtained through the corpus analysis tool Sketch Engine outlining points of contact among keywords and collocations, and validating hypotheses on eco-anxiety as a discursive theme.