The social media platform has become an outlet for grief as well as information for people impacted by the pandemic
There are announcements in the afternoon and by evening, the pink bubble on the Twitter app starts blinking. And it feels like an intimate interactive talk show as the speakers begin sharing their thoughts, concerns and plans. Sometimes choreographed, most of the times instantaneous. In the midst of the raging COVID-19 pandemic, Twitter Spaces has become the hub of activity. While Twitter appears like a war room with messages zipping about various medical needs and resources, Spaces has become a place to plan, strategise and calm nerves.
“We are hosting an @TwitterSpaces session on vaccines. Bring your questions, we will get you answers. Joining details in the next tweet,” shared Sugandh Rakha, a techie who has created a verified resource site for people impacted by COVID-19. “Spaces has become a good place to listen and collate information instantly. After our session on vaccination we have created some FAQs which are being vetted by Dr. Aviral Vatsa and Dr. Umair. The questions asked by people helped us shape our dashboard,” says Mr. Rakha.
The pandemic has been especially hard on volunteers as they are working hard but get a constant stream of tragic news. “A volunteer might have arranged a bed after three-hour struggle but by the time he/she informs the family, the attender tells them that the patient is dead. We have to address the mental health issues and Spaces is perfect vehicle for that,” says Mr. Rakha.
A few days back, a doctor’s tweet about a young man singing ‘Tera mujhse hai pehle ka naata koi…” ( a Hindi film song) to his dying mother triggered an outpouring of collective grief. The social media platform and its audio avatar have become an intimate outlet for grief as well as information for a society cooped up in homes for months on end. “I realise that it’s become a valuable source of information for some, in context of people hosting spaces to clear doubts about vaccines, COVID-19. And then, there are live concerts feat Chinmayi which have been huge hits,” says Hemant Kumar, who has been regularly plugging into these conversations.
New age radio
“TwitterSpaces is like the new age radio to which am slowly warming up better than podcasts. You tune into a space which has an interesting conversation, listen and leave. Every night I open twitter and check what spaces convos are happening. I jump in to see what’s the conversation about…I jump out if it’s boring,” says Padmaja Konisetti, a communications professional.
However, it’s the optional nature of interaction that is winning. “I can connect and carry on with whatever I am doing. If I want to I can join the conversation that’s very convenient. Unlike Clubhouse which had a certain set of people hosting conversations this is more natural,” says Usha Raman who writes about technology’s interface with society.
“Podcasts are different. People plan on listening to them. There is a separate audience. In contrast, Spaces is ephemeral. Either you catch it or hear people talking about it,” says Ms. Raman.