Work has changed for almost everyone during the COVID-19 pandemic. Parents have become teachers, partners have become hair stylists and at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, a security guard has learned to leave his post — to post.
Tim Tiller, the museum's head of security, was tapped last month to take over the museum's social media accounts during the pandemic shutdown. He says he was "brand new" to social media.
Tiller's first post, on March 17: "Hello Friends, my name is Tim and I am the head of security for The Cowboy. I have been asked to take on the additional duty of social media management while the museum is closed. I'm new to social media but excited to share what I am told is called 'content' on all of The Cowboy's what I am told are 'platforms' including the Twitter, the Facebook, and the Instagram. My team and I will also continue to protect and monitor the museum and grounds. Thanks, Tim We are required to smile in our official photos. Send."
Since then, the museum's social media accounts have boomed. It now has more than 300,000 followers on Twitter. Its Instagram and Facebook accounts are both closing in on 100,000 and growing every day.
Tiller grew up on a farm and visited the Cowboy Museum as a kid. He took a job as a floor guard in 2016 and worked his way up to head of security, hoping to be close to the cowboy lifestyle he loved so much. Under the quarantine, Tiller is very much a lone ranger. While the rest of the museum's staff teleworks, he goes to work every day monitoring the building's security systems and performing routine maintenance.
He also does a quick tour for his new followers and selects something from the collection to post. Tiller is often the only one on-site these days, roaming the halls and keeping an eye out for anything amiss — and finding just the right selfie.
Tiller's first few posts took off across every platform, but especially on Twitter. "I was stunned," Tiller tells Morning Edition host David Greene. People responded to his tweets marveling at how wholesome they feel. So he kept posting, unafraid to ask for help as he learned what a hashtag is, often using "#hashtag" to amuse himself.
But that didn't mean he didn't take his new role seriously. Early on, Tiller tweeted at his new followers: Twitter tips please. His fans responded with some — and they heaped on sincere praise, seeming to delight in the sheer normalcy of his brand during a time when social media feeds are anything but normal.
Like many under lockdown, Tiller gets lonely as he patrols the museum. "I'm used to seeing people in here, used to staying busy," he says. "Walking around the museum with nobody here. It's just ... hard to get used to."
Tiller says he knows we all need to adapt in this moment, and he'll keep offering glimpses into the museum he clearly adores. Just don't expect him to stop using his trademark #hashtag.