New West is going viral – in a good way.
A nightly gathering among the New West Twitterverse aims to spark joy amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Each evening, folks are invited to share their thoughts on a particular topic using the #NewWestGoesViral hashtag.
Sapperton resident Ruby Campbell hosts the nightly virtual tweet-up, which begins at 8 p.m.
“I am hoping to pick topics that are a little bit lighter and bring joy to people and make people remember to think about hope and think positive,” she said.” Just anything to take us away from reality.”
The idea came about after one local resident wondered if it might be a good idea to shut down local discussion on Twitter for a couple of weeks, fearing the discussion could get dreary.
“My immediate response was, ‘No. Why would we want to lose such a valuable social tool in a time where we are supposed to be social isolating?’” Campbell said. “That’s the only way we are going to be able to connect with people we would normally go to see at different events or we would be on boards with, and so forth. This would be a fun way to do that. I thought, let’s do it in a way where we are not talking about the virus. Everything else is virus related.”
Campbell’s suggestion sparked a whole bunch of likes on Twitter, and New West resident Jana Buhlmann proposed the #NewWestGoesViral hashtag.
And it’s catching on; the #NewWestGoesViral is hashtag has found itself trending in Canada on Twitter on several occasions.
Folks who are looking to be jerks or get political, should go somewhere else as that’s not the goal of #NewWestGoesViral.
“I don’t own this. My kind of suggestion is that we keep it non-political. Something that is non-divisive,” she said. “Something that is a little bit lighter, where people can think about joyous times in their life.”
Campbell said the idea is to bring joy to people, at a time when many are feeling despair and fear. Topics have included family recipes, first jobs and travel stories.
“It was really cool because it made me think about all the different fun traveling adventures and made me kind of feel like I had been travelling for a little bit,” she said of the travel topic. “There are no real rules. I am asking people for topics and then what Ii do is look at the number of likes.”
Campbell tweets out the daily topic each morning and launches the virtual tweet-up from 8 to 9 p.m. nightly, but some of the discussion carries on later into the evening. She’s hoping to recruit a few people to host it some evenings.
“When I talk to people I am going to say, let’s pick a topic that brings people joy,” she said.
Because the COVID-19 pandemic is a scary time for folks, the hope is to take peoples’ minds off the doom-and-gloom around the health-care crisis for awhile.
“We are in our own situation where Jason has an immune-system vulnerability,” Campbell said of her husband. “Of course, I can’t go see my dad in the care home. It takes your mind off of some of this.”
Aside from the folks who participate in the nightly discussions, Campbell said she’s heard from others who welcome the distraction.
“It’s fascinating. Some people who don’t participate have DM’ed me to say this is great, thank you.’ It’s been really interesting to have this silent group of people who feel like they are enjoying following it but they don’t want to participate. They are enjoying it,” she said. “That for me is the coolest.”
Campbell suspects the local get-togethers on Twitter will continue until B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives the all-clear and says people can resume their normal activities.
“I feel like it’s just a nice way to connect with other people in our community. Some of them are probably isolated. Some of these people, I’d be like ‘let’s go for a walk’ or ‘let’s go for a hike’ and you can’t do that right now. You don’t want to just keep texting back and forth, ‘How are you doing?’ ‘Oh, I don’t know – we’ve run out of peanut butter,’” she laughs. “I think it does help for a little bit today.”