Latvians find comfort in viral trend of sharing childhood photos

While exact figures can't be procured, it seems that thousands of Latvians are taking part in a novel trend of posting childhood photos on social networks.

A chain letter accompanying the initiative explains the goal of putting vintage photos online at this time: finding solace during the state-wide emergency caused by the Covid-19 outbreak. 

The letter is to be forwarded to everyone who likes the photos you've posted. "Don't try to stop the game, as it can be very nice and uplifting during this time of quarantine. Heaps of health, joy and love to you!" it says. 

In addition to having a calming effect, the photos evoke a life situation when most people had more free time, which mirrors the situation faced by many who can't leave house or have to work from home during the epidemic.

On the flip side, the solitude that results from the emergency measures offers a rare opportunity to reflect, and spending a lot of time indoors might encourage some to dust off the old photos in the attic and put them online. Some people choose to add the #paliecmājās (stay at home) hashtag to the photos to encourage social distancing measures. 

Liepa Actiņa, a Facebook friend, sent the chain letter to me after I liked a photo of her childhood self showcasing her paintings and another one of her as a teenager wearing copious corpsepaint.

She thinks it's impossible to explain the new trend with a single cause. "Among my acquaintances it's fashionable to use the newly-acquired free time to tidy their house. I think this opportunity to go through one's stuff at home is one reason why people open their old photo albums and think their life over," she said.

"This downtime is also akin to a psychodrama session on the theme, 'I am on my deathbed and looking back at my life; at what I feel; at what I think; at what I would have wanted to do differently.' It is an opportunity to come face to face with one's ideals in the middle of life and not at the end of it, and perhaps with the youth photos challenge we as a collective are working, half-consciously, on such processes," Liepa told LSM. 

A childcare specialist, Liepa is currently at home because of a cold she caught before the current outbreak. She admits she still worries every day whether it's just a cold. "Other than that, I don't feel much affected as I'd have to go to work if I wasn't ill. I feel that my friends, parents of small children, aren't as worried as the disease isn't severe in children. They're mostly afraid not of falling ill but of handing the virus to others with higher risk of complications," said Liepa. 

Quite a few celebrities are taking part in the initiative too, including musician Jānis Šipkēvics, TV personality Eva Johansone, Instagram starlet Agnija Grigule and others. 

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