When on March 14, 2020, the Spanish Government declared a state of alarm due to the spread of the covid-19 virus, we had to prepare for an unusual confinement of indefinite duration. A family, logistical and emotional challenge that each managed as best they could. I thought it was a good time to travel and feed the spirit, so I visited more than 100 museums around the world during those weeks. I went back to the rooms of some already well-known ones, such as the Louvre, the MoMA or the British Museum, although I admit that it was more enjoyable to discover some smaller, distant or unknown ones. One night, I was flying to Frida Kahlo Museum of Mexico, jumped to the Brooklyn Museum to end the evening admiring some of the wonders of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.
All this was possible thanks to one of the best contributions that Twitter has made to cultural dissemination: the possibility of creating thematic lists, a tool that goes against the two basic dimensions of a social network: chaos and an overabundance of actors and content. A Twitter list is the new archive, a “box” where you can sort accounts you find interesting by topic without having to follow them all. In other words, information ordered by virtue of personal criteria and tastes, whether these are photojournalism, the environment, Canadian politics, graphic design or African news. With over 320 million accounts, it’s hard not to find contributions to an interesting list.
world museums is the name of the list, open to all users, which I made during those days and which I continue to feed with new museums. Hundreds of cultural institutions are now competing to identify the best narratives on social media to share their treasures and activities with visitors thousands of miles away. When we manage to get out of the bubble in which the algorithm locks us up with our ideological followers and our daily debates, some miracles can happen, like not crossing the path with a single tweet that exudes hate or incites polarization. If we take the reins, Twitter can prove to be a formidable tool for accessing knowledge, a meeting place with beauty and culture that helps us weather difficult times.
By the way, that beauty, hand in hand with literature, has recently won another battle on Twitter, this time not against despair but against mediocrity. It happened last Monday, when the writer Almudena Grandes received, posthumously, the medal that makes her Favorite Daughter of Madrid. The mayor of the city, José Luis Martínez-Almeida, did not attend the recognition, nor did the deputy mayor, Begoña Villacís. Eloquent absences that were buried under the signs of affection and gratitude that those attending the event gave to the widower, the poet Luis García Montero and their children. The journalist Fernando Olmeda captured a moment of special intensity and beauty with his mobile. He uploaded it to Twitter: the video of an endless ovation from the entire theater, standing up, in memory of Almudena Grandes and in support of her entire family. The sequence has exceeded 400,000 reproductions and has been shared so far by more than 3,000 people. The applause for the writer now resounds on the mobile phones and computers of thousands of Spaniards. There is no more beautiful way to practice virality and respond to scorn.