One Tweet Creates 18 Million Virtual Hugs

How one man started an avalanche of love.

Nov 1, 2020

(DenPhotos / Shutterstock.com)

Edmund O’Leary is a man who knows how to share his feelings with honesty. By tweeting two simple sentences, he immediately received an outpouring of love and support from all four corners of the world.

It all started in Epsom, Surrey, a town just south of London. As O’Leary was feeling down, he reached out, saying he was not ok and asked for people to say hello. He finished off his short note with a polite thank you. Replies started pouring in, with 220,000 messages received in 24 hours, according to the Evening Standard.

The tweeted replies came in many forms: moving poems, a video of wild elephants from Kenya, a photo of flowers from Stuttgart, words of support, paintings, and violin music. One father sent a picture of his three-year-old son proudly showing his Lego creation accompanied by these words, “Here is my son. He wants you to love yourself more. Even a bad Lego construction can feel like an accomplishment. Just being is enough. Hoping for you to find joy in just being.”

According to the BBC, O’Leary’s post was retweeted 14,000 times and garnered more than 300,000 likes. Some of the tweets were from celebrities, but most of them were from normal folk who deeply cared. A former member of parliament asked him how he was doing, adding she was free if he wanted to direct message her any time.

Interviewed on BBC Breakfast two days later, O’Leary said, “The whole experience has been absolutely surreal and provides me with a lot of hope.” He was shocked that the outpouring of love was so immediate. “Eighteen and a half million people and counting have seen my tweet. Nothing can prepare you for that!” he added.

O’Leary’s tweet resonated with those who were inspired by his honesty and vulnerability, especially men. One tweet read, “Hey Edmund! You’re a brave lad putting your feelings out there! Your courage has given a lot of people permission to talk about how they are feeling. Despite feeling low, you have done a lot of good. I am very grateful! Bless you!” Another uplifting tweet said, “When we reach out, we’re brave warriors. So much love to you!”

The tweet touched a chord inside everyone who saw it and the subsequent support he received resonated with others who felt the same way as O’Leary. One woman tweeted, “I hope it’s okay that I’m reading your tweet as though it’s for me.” Another added, “Wife is reading all these messages and it’s helping her.”

This avalanche of kindness started with a few honest words. It gathered force when tens of thousands of people responded, creating “virtual acts of kindness.” And those replies then picked up strength, uplifting and inspiring even more people.

O’Leary could not keep up responding to all the tweets as there is no stopping such an avalanche of love! He said on Twitter, “The response to my tweet posted on Friday 16th October 2020 has been phenomenal. An outpouring of love and support across the world.”

This light from darkness shows how humanity shines. And it all started on a Friday in October when one man spoke from his heart. Thank you, Edmund O’Leary!

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NICOLE NATHAN BEM, CONTRIBUTOR
Nicole is an editor, blogger and author who has recently left her urban life in order to be more connected with nature. In her spare time, she’s outdoors hiking in the forest, mountain biking or tending to her new permaculture garden.