Social media may in essence be ephemeral, but curators at the Museum of London appear determined to use people’s throwaway one-liners and lockdown tweets to provide a historical context for the coronavirus pandemic.
The Museum has pulled together 13 tweets from Londoners that were shared during the initial lockdown, in a strand of its ongoing project entitled Going Viral.
Research published last August 2020 by Twitter UK identified seven behaviours that emerged or accelerated during lockdown.
“Social media interaction has been an intrinsic shared experience for millions during the covid-19 crisis, which may have long-term effects on the way personal and professional communities connect for years to come,” the Museum of London said in announcing this latest collection.
The Museum describes the Going Viral project as “a rapid-response, digital collecting initiative, focused on collecting text, memes, videos and images” that went “viral” on Twitter. They defined as viral as content that was “shared” or “liked” more than 30,000 times.
“Humour and sarcasm have always been an inherent characteristic of Londoners, but especially employed as coping mechanisms throughout history in times of crisis and hardship,” said Foteini Aravani, the digital curator at the Museum of London.
“The covid-19 pandemic has been no different with imagination, creativity and wit uniting us while we’re physically separated by social distancing measures.”
Aravani called the viral tweets “a vital virtual form of camaraderie between Londoners in the lockdown”.
The Collecting COVID project, first announced in April 2020, seeks to reflect Londoners’ lives during the time of the covid-19 crisis to keep a record to ensure future generations of Londoners will be able to learn about and understand this extraordinary period.
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