The hashtag TWUG began trending on Twitter late Tuesday, March 31 after actor and producer Donnie Wahlburg called for his 1.5 million followers to send virtual hugs out through the platform. The term is short for Twitter Hug, and it was invented by Wahlberg over a decade ago.
Just one hour after his initial March 31 tweet, the hashtag was trending number 1 in the United States. He started by calling his followers to action by tweeting, “Twitter hugs – aka #TWUGs – have never been needed more! Spread your virtual arms – it’s #TWUG time! Let’s go! (Make sure you use the hashtag #TWUG).”
Users quickly replied to Wahlberg with gifs and comments. One popular response was the viral “you get a car” gif of Oprah Winfrey with one user captioning the media “You get a #twug! You get a #twug! Everybody gets a #TWUG!”
Wahlberg later retweeted people pointing out that the trend was number one in the United States.
Other Celebrities Got in on the Trend
Celebrity news blogger Perez Hilton tweeted out just what TWUG meant for those who were unfamiliar with the trend. He wrote, “If you’re wondering what a #TWUG is, it’s a Twitter hug, and Donnie Wahlberg is giving lots. We could all use some #twugs today (and this week, and this month, and all of next month, and probably after.”
Wahlberg responded to many people tweeting at him with #TWUG as well, sometimes even upping the ante to #TWUG x 2 like when a user sent him a photo of their dog saying it had been a “ruff day.”
Other users used the trend to send virtual hugs to healthcare workers and others who may be on the frontlines of the global coronavirus pandemic.
Some people tweeted the celebrity, asking him to send Twugs to their loved ones.
“Can I get a #TWUG for my brother and his coworkers? They are working so hard. God Bless and stay healthy” one user wrote, accompanied with a picture of healthcare workers in full personal protective equipment.
Another thanked Twitter for keeping them entertained during their quarantine, writing “Been quarantined for days. Thanks twitter for keeping me entertained. Feeling much better today covid-19 sucks!! #TWUG”
Wahlberg Originally Used #TWUG After Having a Twitter Fight With Himself
Now is not the first time #TWUG has been a trend on Twitter. Back in December 2013, Wahlberg coined the term after beginning a Twitter argument with himself over some typos that occurred in a Tweet containing his disdain for Mondays.
After a lengthy argument in which he criticized his own spelling, wake up routine and “pathetic” math skills, he apologized to himself, writing “I’m sorry too @DonnieWahlberg. Make up #Twugs?”
Wahlberg has since sent out Twugs every now and then to his fans, using the time to connect with people on Twitter. He most recently shared some virtual “#SocialDistancing compliant” hugs on March 24.
According to Urban Dictionary, the term has been around since 2009, and Wahlberg verified that in a March 16, 2020 tweet, writing “When I invented the #TWUG – aka the @Twitter hug” – Ten years ago, I had no idea that it would work perfectly for something called “Social Distancing” during a pandemic. Anyway, here we are a decade later and it seems we can all use a #TWUG right now! Let’s freaking go!”