A virtual hug is as good as any right now.

By Andrea Romano
April 17, 2020
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If you could use a hug right now, you’re not alone.

Lockdowns and stay-at-home measures across the nation, while necessary to combat coronavirus, can also take a toll on your emotional, mental, and physical health. Combine that with CDC recommendations to stay away from other people by at least six feet and there are not a lot of opportunities to get comfort — or at the very least, a hug.

As a response to this increased, widespread need for comfort and connection, Facebook has been rolling out a new “hug” reaction for people who want to digitally send their support to loved ones, USA Today reported. This new reaction joins the list of currently available reactions on Facebook, including Angry, LOL, Heart, Sad, WOW, and the old-fashioned Thumbs Up (or Like).

Credit: Courtesy of Facebook

The new reaction looks like a smiling emoji hugging a heart. According to USA Today, users on Messenger can also toggle the reaction to a vibrating heart as well. It’s obviously not as good as a real hug, but it’s something that people can do for now.

Credit: Courtesy of Facebook

“This idea of a hug reaction came back consistently as one of the emotions and feelings that were missing from reactions. So that’s something that was always on our minds,” Fidji Simo, head of the Facebook app, told USA Today. “And with the crisis that we are going through right now, there is no doubt that people need more compassion, more support.”

Even though the new reaction may, in a very small way, provide comfort to people who are struggling with this global crisis, whether it be financially, physically, or emotionally, the new reaction may only be temporary, USA Today reported. However, it stands to reason that people will still be in need of support, even if it’s in the form of an emoji, when a global crisis is not going on as well. Simo told USA Today that the permanence of the new emoji is entirely based on user’s reaction.

If you want to send your friends and family members a nice Facebook hug, the new reaction will be available on the Messenger app beginning Friday, April 17, and on the Facebook website the following week.