Have you guys seen this site? I discovered it the other day, and now I can’t stop absorbing everything it has to offer.
“Humans of New York” is a photojournalistic effort to portray the humanity of those people around us- you know, those people who pass you on the street, who stand behind you in line at the DMV, who work in the office downstairs- the people you never think about. The photographer, Brandon, takes beautiful photos of people he sees around New York City, and then interviews them for a short quotation or story. The snippets range from heartbreaking to warming to laugh-out-loud-funny. It is absolutely gripping.
You see, I’ve discovered recently how often it is that we forget that other people are humans. Something about our society makes it acceptable, and we forget that the people around us have lives outside of the setting in which we interact with them. We don’t think about the fact that they have thoughts and dreams and hopes and stories. We see them only as they relate to us, and forget that they are the center of their own world, just like you are the locus around which all of your thoughts are oriented. When I worked in customer service, it was not uncommon for people to hang up on me, to berate me, to treat me as if I was some machine with no motivations other than the desire to take their money. They were rude and mean and sometimes even wrote bad things about me on the Internet. And I truly believe that it is because they forgot. They forgot that I had feelings. They never considered that I left work at the end of the day, changed into my pajamas, and laid in bed thinking about what they said and how they acted.
That, I believe, is why I love “Humans of New York” so much.
Because it’s a reminder.
And I think we all need to be reminded.
Here is a sample of his work:
“Why were you homeless?” “It just got to a point where my mom couldn’t maintain anymore. The sad part was that it was during high school. So I had to keep it a secret. Cause, you know, it’s high school.”
I asked his favorite thing about his son, and he replied: “That he’s very loving.” Hearing this, the boy asked: “What about basketball?” The dad answered: “I like that you’re good at basketball. But my favorite thing is that you’re very loving.”
“I’m going home to see my mother.” “Oh, is it her birthday?” “Nope. I just love my mother, and she loves flowers.”
“We’ve been friends since we were 13.” “What’s the most fun you’ve ever had together?” “Oh, we don’t know…” “Well, what’s the hardest you’ve ever laughed together?” “Now you listen here! I want you to write down these questions you’re asking us, pull them out when you’re 85 years old, and see if you can answer them yourself!”
“My town in Colombia is very beautiful. I don’t travel because I want to leave my home. I travel because I need to know why I’m staying.”
“After this I go to work at a pizza shop. My wife and I were college professors in Bangladesh. I taught accounting. But one dollar in America becomes eighty dollars when we send it back home.”
“She’s compassionate.” “Tell me about a time she was compassionate.” He took a couple minutes, then said, haltingly: “It’s not about a time. She’s compassionate toward who I am. Every time.”
“It was easier than I thought it’d be.”