Arts and Entertainment

Humans of New York: Lessons for the World

A think-piece about how Humans of New York (HONY) compensates for what’s lost in mainstream news sources and how it combats our “culture of extremes.”

Reading Time: 1 minute

Think back to one of HONY’s portraits from April, with a caption about a Colombian boy who wants to be an archaeologist and hunt for “dinosaur eggs and Egyptians.” Think back to a portrait caption from 2013, in which a woman is told by her dying husband, “take the love you have for me and spread it around.” Think of the portrait about a boy who seized the perfect moment during a movie to ask his crush out on a date. Whether these stories are heart-warming or poignant, they aren’t covered by the news. They should be.

In the midst of political and international strife, it’s more important now than ever that we begin to understand and accept the stories of those all around the world. Stanton’s work is, for us, a raw and effortless way to find meaning and relatability in other people’s lives. It’s time we make more human connection. Whether it be through HONY’s long captions, the images themselves, or the thousands of Facebook comments that follow each post, there is always a message that can be extracted, or some sort of connection we can make. Through words and pictures about others, we’re getting to know these people, we’re feeling emotions that they’ve felt, and we’re learning from their lives—how things they’ve done or gone through can be lessons and shared experiences for us.

HONY isn’t just an outlet for entertainment or a pastime; I, for one, hope that it ends up being the future of journalism. The news nowadays tells us about one domestic and foreign disaster after the next, but I hope that more news sources begin to tell us the truly “good” stories: stories from which we can understand that our world is not doomed to hell, and that if we have conflicts that we need to resolve, we must do so by making human connections and coming together—not by viewing the rest of our world through a lens of separation.