On Twitter, a historian interrupts bad news with beauty.
In anxious times, social media might be the last place you look for comfort and joy. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Ada Palmer, associate professor of history, has changed that with her #SomethingBeautiful campaign on Twitter.
She launched it on March 12 with this tweet: “Twitter is a valuable crisis news source, but the stream of terribleness is hard on morale, and keeping up our energy is vital too. So every hour on the hour I’m going to post #SomethingBeautiful to break up the stream w/ moments of rest & recovery. (Others, please join me!)”
Inspired by an account that tweeted a bird every hour without further elaboration, Palmer’s was a simple concept: invite people to tweet standouts from their photo files, and in this way populate our feeds with beauty—however one defines that. The project, Palmer said at an April online event, uncovered “a diasporic yet interconnected community of people eager to take delight in things.”
The hundreds of images now circulating under her hashtag find beauty in many things—gardens, clouds, goslings, graffiti, chipping paint—but Palmer herself has largely drawn on her collection of photos from museums, archives, and historical sites where her research on the Renaissance is focused. Here we share a few of her images, or beauty in the eye of the historian.
Read more about the Universityʼs response to the COVID-19 pandemic in “Together in Spirit.”