It started off in Sweden with, well, @sweden, a Twitter account launched as part of a tourism promotion project. Each week, the account would be handled by a different curator, providing “slice of life” glimpses into the life of Swedes in Sweden and abroad. The idea was rapidly adopted in countries and cities all over the world.
As followers of several rotation curation Twitter accounts around the world, my friend June and I one day decided that it was high time Singapore had a rotation curation project. After all, we have the highest Internet penetration in Southeast Asia, and one needs only to step on to any public transport and see commuters glued to their smartphones. Why shouldn’t we put that to good use by showing the world sides of Singapore they may not always get to see?
Singapore’s rotation curation project, @hellofrmsg, was launched on July 1, and is now in its fourth week. It has been in the hands of a history buff, an amateur naturalist, a university student and is currently managed by a young HIV+ Singaporean going by the moniker ‘Zack‘.
A topic that rarely gets discussed in public, HIV/AIDS has long been brushed aside or forgotten in Singapore. HIV+ people are often unwilling to come forward and tell their stories, afraid of the stigma attached to being HIV+. By sharing his story on @hellofrmsg, Zack may not be putting a face to the issue, but is certainly doing his best to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS as well as tell people about how it is to live with the disease in Singapore, from medical costs to everyday challenges. He does not shy away from the difficulties, yet tweets in a cheerful, positive way often incongruent with what may be the usual perception of people with HIV+.
Unlike many of the other rotation curation projects, @hellofrmsg does not require its curators to be Singaporean – one only needs to be living in Singapore at the time of curation to apply. This made more sense to us because it’s an inescapable fact that there are many foreigners living and working in Singapore, and they too contribute to society and life on this little island. Often the perspectives from foreigners – whether they are here for studies, blue collar jobs, white collar jobs or as trailing spouses – provide food for thought and fodder for interesting discussion. Their story is part of Singapore too.
@hellofrmsg is still only four curators in, with a fairly long queue of curators to go. The hope is that every curator will be able to open up a new aspect of life in Singapore for the world to see, and show everyone – including ourselves – that this city-state is so much more than William Gibson’s “Disneyland with the death penalty” or a shiny shell of malls and economic gains.