How About a Virtual Hug?

FEU Advocate
May 12, 2020 12:49

By Mikaela Anne A. Laxa

Living in isolation, especially during a dangerous circumstance, is not something that most people will find appealing. Amidst a pandemic that prevents people from comforting and showing support through physical contact, technology once again comes through to provide a medium that will do just that – in the form of an emoji.

On April 17, Alexandru Voica, a communications manager of Facebook (FB), announced on Twitter that they will be launching new Care reactions; a hug emoji on FB and a pulsating heart on Messenger.

“We know this is an uncertain time, and we wanted people to be able to show their support in ways that let their friends and family know they are thinking of them,” Voica stated in his tweet.

According to Statista, a statistical analysis website, there are 42.6 million Filipino Facebook users in 2018, and is expected to have approximately 45.4 million users in 2020. Using the 2018 data, 40% of the Philippines’ 106.7 million population is using FB, and have been utilizing it since 2004.

Over the years, the Filipino people’s fascination on FB only grew, utilizing it for almost anything. And since the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has taken the world by storm in January 2020, almost everyone has been dependent on social media to keep in touch with other people – using not only the said platform, but also Twitter, Instagram, Zoom, etc.

“I’m stuck here sa (in the) dorm mag-isa (alone) for almost two months already. And I’m really grateful for SNS [social networking sites] that I get to communicate with my loved ones,” said Kaye Ann Campos, a 2nd Year student Nursing student. 

Social media, now being the most viable and most efficient medium to utilize, is being used for important operations – from spreading much-needed information to conducting donation drives for those in need.

And now, FB has come up with a new way to show solidarity and comfort for others by adding a hug emoji and a pulsating heart for “when a regular heart does not feel like enough” as Fidji Simo, head of the Facebook App, said in an interview with USAToday.

Furthermore, she said, “We've seen in new research and heard from people – as well as felt the need ourselves – that there is a desire to express a special kind of support around COVID-19.”

People may not be allowed to physically unite in order to show togetherness, but that does not mean that empathy and a strong sense of camaraderie is totally lost. After all, considering what happens to others, more than what happens to oneself, is a big factor in flattening the curve and beating COVID-19.