• Nina Tumanishvili

Don’t mention the C-word

Bored of hearing about the big bad bug? HelloHub is here to help

With the world’s news media locked in a relentless tumble dryer of pandemic coverage, we’d all be forgiven for feeling a little weary of the whole miserable business.

Climbing death rates, daily government press briefings and staring at the inside of our own homes has become the new normal in the UK and beyond. It’s a public health event which is both life threatening for some, and just plain boring for most.

Bereft of social contact, we have looked to both the local and the digital to fill the gaping communal void in our lives.

People are realising, perhaps for the first time in a generation, that they live on streets and in communities full of other human beings. Suddenly our neighbours are no longer a source of suspicion and acrimony but of conversation, comfort and security.

Whilst mind numbing isolation has encouraged us to look closer to home for relief, it’s also made us hugely dependant on technology for many of our social needs. Jobs, birthdays, weddings and all manner of other social and religious gatherings now take place behind a screen. We are living in the time of the Digital Pandemic.

It doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom, however. Whilst we are all well aware of the human and economic costs of the current crisis, the 24-hour nature of the news tends to keep us locked into a relentless cycle of negative headlines. This does little for our state of mind and obscures seeds of positivity which we all need during these testing times.

Lockdown has seen new connections forged between neighbours, temporary environmental benefits and a re-evaluation of working culture freeing many from the chains of 9–5 office life. The way in which we use digital technology in future might also be improved as a result.

Although vital to our current predicament, influence of tech in our society more broadly, and particularly social media, has arguably kept us glued to screens, stuck in polarising echo chambers and isolated from our real surroundings. If we leave lockdown with an approach to the digital space which unites not divides, we’d surely be better off as a collective.

Such a shift is something we at HelloHub would like to help with, starting right now! HelloHub, the people behind the chat app Tubechat for the London Underground, are launching a free neighbourhood chat service for all of us affected by the lockdown.

The service seeks to use technology to bring people together within local communities, offering a forum for discussing problems and solutions to basic needs, or simply providing a platform to talk and alleviate the sense of isolation we’re all feeling at this time.

Accessible via smartphones, tablets and PCs, the service is completely free, runs without ads, and comes with built-in security measures to keep users safe online. Initially it will cover the Hackney and Brixton areas of London, before expanding to the whole Greater London area.

To access the platform all users have to do is click the link below, choose the chat group local to them, and enter an email address. No data will be shared with third parties and your anonymity will be protected at all times:

Disclaimer — these are not HelloHub posters but we think they are very cool.

Stay safe out there!

Words by Robi O’Cleirigh


Social Media: LinkedIn

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