It’s perhaps unusual at a time of a global pandemic to hear that something going viral is a positive thing. But that’s exactly what happened a couple of weeks ago.
As many of us are, I am trying to juggle work commitments, developing a new business, and home-schooling two young children. And blimey, it’s a challenge. On good days, when we all have energy and focus, it works well. There are other days, however, when energy is low, or people would rather do something completely different! I’ve learned to roll with it…
A couple of weeks ago our 5-year-old daughter, Gwennan, wasn’t really in the mood for schoolwork. We’ve all been there! Gwennan is very creative, and through the lockdown, I’ve learnt how much of a kinaesthetic and visual learner she is. One of the tasks she was set was to survey friends and family asking them what their favourite sea creature is. We don’t have a very big family and there were many choices, so to make the count more meaningful, I asked Twittersphere for some help.
Now, this was the middle of the afternoon, so I didn’t anticipate many people scrolling Twitter at that time. Some of my lovely friends and colleagues replied, which was fab. I read out the responses and Gwennan became engaged in the task, enjoying marking them on her sheet and seeing which sea creature was people’s favourite. It was fun and exciting for us both.
I then attended our school’s virtual Governing Body meeting. During which, I noticed that my notifications were going crazy. Gwennan’s tweet had really resonated with people.
According to Owen Williams, a digital and social media expert, the tweet had information, identity and emotion in droves. He calls this the ‘engagement engine’. I wasn’t thinking about this at all, I just wanted to use Twitter as a tool to make Gwennan’s task ‘real’ for her.
And it did.
Not only did Gwennan spend time recording and working out which were people’s favourite sea creatures, the responses were an education in the positivity and generousness of community.
People reminisced about childhood experiences and holidays which involved sea creatures. There was reciprocal joy in sharing and learning about these.
There were lots of people who had involved their own families. We imagined the same conversations that we had as a family also being had all over the world. This helped Gwennan connect with other children and be interested in their views.
Then there were people who wanted to share their love of and personal connections to sea creatures. These are incredibly heart-warming.
Both of our children were captivated by where the responses had come from. It made the world that much smaller and showed them that we are all connected.
The scale of the response became a thing in itself! As a researcher, I particularly liked these!
And a few well-known people also responded…
I’ve been thinking a lot about the scale and nature of the response to the tweet. Yes, it evoked happy memories for people, enabled people to share their love of sea creatures, and help a little girl from Wales with her work… but perhaps the context is the important thing here.
A global pandemic connects us.
Children are our future, a hopeful future. They connect us.
Human beings, as Rutger Bregman argues, are inherently kind. And in the face of adversity, kindness shines through and gives us strength. Kindness connects us.
Through one tweet, a 5 year old girl from Wales learnt about kindness, joy, people, places, hopefulness, and that we are a global community. What better education is that?
Oh, and in case you were wondering…
What a brilliant story, and one I imagine Gwennan will remember for a very long time. For the record, mine’s a seal!