I answered this here:
I can offer my condolences to a friend in a discord chat with a sad emoji without making them feel bad that all I have to say is "I'm sorry".
When it comes to bad faeces that happens in someone's life there isn't always "words" that can convey the empathy that you feel for them. I'm going to throwback to when I admitted why I disappeared in December and had a complete breakdown and was upset about a really faecesty update announcement that I couldn't install. I don't think I need to bring back that particular hardship but I can say, save for 3 people that actually replied (1 IPS person and 2 members I think) most of the people that responded were exclusively in reactions, which I actually appreciated significantly more than them replying to the thread with "I'm so sorry Morrigan I hope everything is okay". I knew, from the reaction, that they felt for me and they wished me the best. In fact those reactions were almost more meaningful to me in the moment.
There is a significant difference between empathy and sympathy (I've been taught that through years upon years of tech support). Empathy means you feel for the person and their plight while sympathy means you feel bad for their plight but don't understand it. For the most part people that are empathetic/understand what you're going through and may have meaningful ways to express how they feel to you and give you great words of wisdom or at least a true kind word that may help. Someone that feels sympathetic for you won't have those words but they will understand that you are going through a rough time. The Sympathetic ones won't have anything meaningful to say but they can certainly say "I support you" with a simple reaction.
To me, sad, was never a negative reaction. It was always a sympathetic reaction. "I know its hard but hang in there boo"
Follow Back Friday, its a reference to a Twitter trend
To The Old Man, at this point I think the Meow is more of an ironic reaction now lololol.
This thread in particular:
There are many posts in it that can do with a "sad" reaction that don't require empty platitudes of "I'm sorry" in it. Otherwise this whole thread would be filled with apologies about how negatively the virus has affected people's lives. Being able to share your trouble and get support without in-genuine apologies is SUPER important in a thread like this.