During the COVID-19 pandemic, many find themselves unable to meet friends or family despite the holidays. For some, it’s just too risky currently to go back home.

Twitter user Tamuchinki (@TeacherUfo) is one such person who had to stay home. Unfortunately, during the holidays he had little to do other than mess with his smartphone. Homesick, he used "Google Earth" to catch a glimpse of his parents' house. When he did so, he noticed that his parents who had passed away were featured on the map:

"I had nothing to do because of COVID-19, and I opened Google Earth to see my parents' house. Then, I noticed there was my father who passed away seven years ago. In addition to my father, it seems my mother was not far away. My father always smoked and waited for my mother on the street where he is in the image. My father was not a talkative person, but he was a kind man. I hope Google doesn’t replace this picture on Google Earth."

Fortunately for homesick Tamuchinki, he could see his parents again, if only on an image from Street View. 600,000 people liked this post. Moreover, many people did a similar search, and some even found images of their family members featured on the platform:

"I also checked Google Earth. I’m in the same situation as you. Tomorrow is the seventh anniversary of my father’s death. I hope Google doesn’t replace his picture."

"I had noticed before that my grandfather is featured (in Stret View) before and saved the picture. After I saw your post, I went to see the map again and found my grandmother, who lives at a retirement home. I found both of them. Thank you for noticing."

"I tried to look for my father who passed away from cancer. I couldn't find him around my parents' house, but I found his car at his workplace!! I noticed he was in the car because the light was on. It made me glad. I could see him again this way thanks to you."

"I just remembered that my wife who passed away two years ago was (in Street View). I saved this picture before Google replaced it. Thank you so much."

"I looked (in Street View) too. I found my grandmother, who passed away nine years ago. When I showed this picture to my mother, she cried. My grandfather also passed away fourteen years ago, and my grandmother was walking so sadly in the picture. I cried too after seeing it."

These days, SNS gets a bad wrap for facilitating cyberbullying and spreading misinformation. However, it's nice to see how it can help people connect is this sort of digitally reminiscent way. Indeed, these platforms can also provide solace during difficult times.

Many people commented, “I cried.” “It makes me cry. That’s why I can’t stop using Twitter” and so on. Indeed, people were moved by this post, but I found one comment particularly memorable:

"Oh, I found myself. I attached rubber chickens to my bicycle after school."

People reacted to this comment:

  • “I cried reading other people’s comment, but your post makes me stop crying! Lol”
  • “It’s unbelievably funny.”
  • “I cried in a different way. Lol”
  • “There are a lot of comments about grandfathers and grandmothers. You just posted such a funny picture. You have a good sense of humor.”
  • "I became sad while I read comments these people’s moving stories. I thought ‘what is a rubber chicken?' and clicked. I laughed out loud. Thank you. Lol"

During COVID-19, it’s indeed difficult to take trips, even back home. However, we might just be able to see a few familiar faces online. Why not look for yourself for your family on Gooogle Earth?

By - Luke Mahoney.