Perhaps the most incredible part of Humans of New York’s success and popularity is its power to unite people to give back to the world.
Humans of New York is an ongoing collection of stories and photographs of people in New York City. The entries encompass a variety of different genres; some are jocular and witty, some are tear-jerkers, and some make you blurt out “aww.” Nevertheless, each entry carries with it uniqueness, separating it from all the other thousands of faces.
The success of HONY correlates directly with how precisely it represents New York City. The stories and quotes associated with each entry give each photograph its own personality and feeling. The page is essentially a digital metaphor for New York City: in one glance all the pictures blend in; none stand out, but, if you single each out, its astounding how different each person is.
HONY actually came into fruition by accident when creator Brandon Stanton went on a photography mission. In November of 2010, after recently being laid off of his job as a bond trader, Stanton decided to turn his hobby of photography into his new profession. His goal was to capture the essence of different parts of America via his camera lens. After stopping in a few different cities, Stanton’s quest took him to New York City where his mission took a sudden change in direction. Overcome with the diversity of cultures and customs in the giant ‘melting pot’ that is New York City, Stanton decided to take residence in the city to “create an exhaustive catalogue of New York City’s inhabitants.” His goal was to photograph 10,000 New Yorkers. As he went through this interminable process of taking all of these photographs, Stanton took to interviewing each participant and learning a little about their past. He then started a blog online sharing their picture along with a quote or piece from their story. The blog took off and became the ever so popular ‘Humans of New York‘, amassing nearly 15 million followers on Facebook, and another 4 million on Instagram.
“I don’t miss my old life as much as I feared I would.” A photo posted by Humans of New York (@humansofny) on
Stanton has now set his aims even higher. All the praise and adulation HONY has received has inspired Stanton to work towards creating an international version of his project. He recently has been traveling to other different cities and countries, posting entries of people he meets outside of New York City. He hopes that one day there can be a Humans of the World blog, in which a different person from a different part of the world is honored each day. He pictures this functioning most efficiently as a system in which a global network of photographers submit entries to a central database each day, and Stanton himself picks one to upload for the world to enjoy.
Humans of New York are spreading awareness of world issues.
Perhaps the most incredible part of HONY’s success and popularity is its power to unite people to give back to the world. Supporters of Humans of New York have raised money for various charities, including a whopping one million dollars for the Brooklyn Kids Organization, which is a charity that helps improve school conditions in Brooklyn, New York. In recent months, Stanton has even travelled to countries in the midst of conflict and oppression to advocate for its citizens. He recently has been meeting with Syrian Refugees to spread awareness for the tragic loss and trying times they are currently enduring. In one particularly moving entry, Stanton photographs a little girl with scratches and scars all over her face. He stresses the fact that each refugee has such a unique story that are all equally devastating and upsetting. He then begs and pleads for the help of his followers and supporters to contribute the UNHCR, United Nations Refugee Agency.
“She doesn’t speak up for herself, so I’m afraid if someone harms her she wouldn’t tell me. I don’t learn about things that happen to her until they are reflected in her behavior at home. Recently I found her washing the dishes, and I asked her where she learned to do that. She told me: ‘When I visit my friend’s house, I do the dishes all the time.'” (Lahore, Pakistan)
Organizations similar to and as widely known as Humans of New York and the Novak Djokovic Foundation Blog play such an integral role in spreading awareness of world issues. In a world obsessed with media and social networking, this wave of online blogs have proven to be the most effective and powerful way of getting information out to the public. Whether these crisis are local like the Brooklyn Kids Organization or global like the Syrian Refugees, the internet has the power to get people from all over the world involved. Stanton‘s vision of an entirely international blog, in which everyone sees the same feed of information is a very interesting although idealistic goal to strive towards. Perhaps it would be more effective if all these blogs were to develop so people can choose what causes they want to support and get involved in. Nevertheless, in this digital era, interactive blogs such as HONY or the NDF Blog are the best way to get young people involved in world issues and therefore, make some serious progress in fixing them.