Humans of New York most precious Facebook page


Recently, I’ve spent more time on Facebook than I’d like to admit. I haven’t learned much other than who’s upset over the Starbucks Christmas cup debate, but that’s not what I want to talk about.
I was scrolling on Advising Day Eve with Word minimized as I scrounged for ideas to write my column on when I giggled. My roommate asked what I was laughing at and all I could say is “the ‘Humans of New York’ page is so precious.”
I had just the read the paragraph-long story of how a man wooed his wife of 39 years by watching her dance class and getting to know her friends. If there is a modernized version of man on the street journalism, it’s HONY.
Brandon Stanton, who runs the blog and social media page, says he started HONY five years ago as a photography project after he lost his finance job. Nothing says New York like a self-made humanities photographer.
Stanton started with the goal to get 10,000 pictures of city inhabitants, but it soon evolved into a story-telling platform.
There’s just something about seeing a pair of hands on your newsfeed with a long caption about how they are praying for something or recovering from drug addiction or coming to terms with their divorce that says more than a meme.
Not all of Stanton’s coverage is heart-wrenching. A lot of it is upbeat, like the story I saw Monday night about the man meeting his wife.
There was a woman with some interesting teaching methods. She said she worked at a preschool where the kids were in charge of the lesson plan. How that works, I’m not sure. The description sounded like something a “new age” parent would say.
Another woman was pictured full-length in snappy business attire with the short explanation: “I just applied to 27 law schools.” Further down, a vibrant-looking woman told HONY how she had a miscarriage and felt like no one understood her pain.
Sometimes, like in the case of the man and his wife’s story, Stanton will space out the story in three or four separate photographs. Each one gives you a little snippet of some stranger’s life.
I can’t say I’d want to be personally featured in something like this, especially since I wouldn’t have much to say, but I love the concept.
Even if you’re never going to run into these people, they could be the person you passed on the street or one of your co-workers.
And the really cool thing is that a lot of the stories follow the same format, but they all have unique characters and elements.
It’s hard to feel like an individual in the masses of people of the 21st century. And no, it’s not the overpopulation. It’s more of an issue of how we treat people.
Stanton breaks that with his way of telling stories that are still human and ordinary but dignified.
He chose wisely by including “humans” in the page’s name. I can hear my Uncle Joe, who is working on his doctorate in sociology, saying how anthropologists will find HONY hundreds of years from now and conclude that we were entirely obsessed with recording our appearance.
Journalists of the future will understand it to be otherwise. Maybe Stanton won’t be around for another five years, but the Internet really does last forever.
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