“My biggest goal is to be completely normal. I want to wake up in a bed every morning, take a shower, drink a cup of coffee, eat breakfast, and read the paper.”
A woman, bundled up against the cold and resting on a worn, red backpack, leans against the concrete façade of a forgotten building. She tells her story and waits to be photographed by Brandon Stanton, creator of the Humans of New York Blog.
Stanton’s creative photograph combines with the perfectly contextualized caption to emotionally move his audience. The woman’s tired expression and words full of yearning elicit waves of empathy. Those who view this blog post cannot help but feel compassion for the down-on-her-luck subject and a little more grateful for the normalcy of everyday life.
Brandon Stanton, who began the HONY blog in 2010 as a photography project, has catalogued the lives of nearly 5,000 New Yorkers over the last four years. His blog posts include an incredible array of human life; those captured on HONY range from a homeless woman desiring normalcy to a former prisoner searching for redemption to President Barack Obama.
Stanton’s posts illustrate the variety of the human condition while simultaneously highlighting the similarities that unite each of us. When an image of a college student having difficultly dealing with her parents pops up on our Facebook feeds, we think of our own familial issues. When we see Barack Obama frowning as he discusses his upbringing, we remember our own childhood fears. When a caption above a woman standing unhappily outside in the cold reads, “I wouldn’t have gone outside today if there had been something in my pantry,” we cannot help but laugh at such a relatable statement.
Humans Of New York brings to light the struggles, hopes, doubts and dreams that exist in all of our lives. This unifying factor has allowed the HONY blog to amass more than eight million social media followers in just four years. The incredible popularity of Stanton’s blog has driven other communities, including Boston College, to develop their own “Humans of” blogs.
While BC does indeed have its own blog, it is not particularly active- since its inception in October, there have only been nine posts. However, an increased HOBC presence would benefit the entire Chestnut Hill community. Scrolling through Facebook and seeing a freshman explain the difficulty she has had adjusting to college would make us realize that we are not the only ones who miss home. A post depicting a senior panicking about post-college plans would illustrate that not everyone has all the answers (even though it often seems like BC students do) and that it is okay to be afraid. An interview with a professor begging for another snow day would remind us that even teachers do not always want to go to class. Plus, it would be pretty cool to have your photograph taken and become BC famous.
Brandon Stanton’s blog gives us a more in-depth picture of who we are. It gives us insight into people’s struggles, understanding of people’s joys and examples of the common threads that bind us all together. A Humans of Boston College blog that similarly contributed to uniting the campus would be an invaluable tool to the entire BC community.