People are always saying things like, "Don't judge people because you don't know what they've been through." We are so absorbed in our busy lives, technology and self-centered media universes that we tend to simply ignore people that we don't know. While I do not think that the Internet will initiate the downfall of the human race, we could all stand to take a few minutes out of our day to gain a new perspective on life. Brandon Stanton, creator of the inspirational Humans of New York movement, gave us a platform on which we can gain insight about the joys and struggles faced by people every day as well as proof that there is always hope for a better tomorrow.
Starting in the city of New York, Stanton began using his camera to capture what seemed like simple pictures of people -- sometimes faces, sometimes their hands or sometimes them holding a phone showing an important personal photo. With each photo he posts online, Stanton writes a snapshot of the conversation he had with the person or people. By doing this, he has captured the raw emotional stories of thousands who have won the hearts of millions.
As Stanton's blog gained popularity and followers, he traveled to several impoverished and conflict-ridden countries, capturing the emotions and struggles of those he met along the way. What separates Stanton's work from prominent activist work is that he frames issues in a way that resonates with readers rather than just telling us why we should care. He appeals to people's natural inclination to make a difference.
One of his more recent series was on children suffering from cancer. This one stood apart to me from other news on this subject because it focused not only on the children, but also their parents and the medical staff. It touches on the pain doctors and nurses feel when they are not able to save a child's life and the guilt that ensues. There are several pieces in which the subjects talk about the constant fear they experience, the masks people wear to hide their pain and the long hours spent searching for a cure after having experienced so many dead ends. Stanton also shares the innate goodness of people by sharing doctors' late-night stories of fighting to save lives. He points out the nurses that spend their days striving to make these kids even just a little bit happier. This series proved to me that I should be thankful for and take advantage of every opportunity I have because there are so many who dream of having what I sometimes find myself taking for granted.
By spotlighting so many honest perspectives, Stanton keeps onlookers enthralled by showing that we, as human beings, can understand and empathize with each other on the most basic levels. Some stories are deep and tug on our emotions, while others are humorous and relatable, but they all have one thing in common: They prove that everyone's perspective is unique and vital in the whirlwind that is this world.
I owe Brandon Stanton a thank you for reminding me to appreciate who I am and to never give up on who I aspire to become.