Who else is feeling like the world just imploded this summer? Gaza, Syria, Iraq, America’s reentry into Iraq, so many refugees, an endless stream of people with nowhere to go… every place is “full” and the money supply is always dwindling as the 0.1% keep stuffing their secret bank accounts with more billions each month.
And it’s all there, right in our face on social media. It’s exhausting just to keep up with all the senseless suffering. But then I had this thought. What if social media is eventually going to put a stop to all this? When enough people have had enough and join together in a massive show of civil disobedience of this bullshit system of war and profit over people and peace. Wouldn’t that be something. Soon, everyone under 20 won’t know a world without social media. Soon, it will be impossible to justify war when its true face is in our face every single day.
Stories have the power to change the world.
One visionary photographer, Brandon Stanton, was recently unemployed when he began to take street portraits of strangers in the summer of 2010. Armed with his camera, he began crisscrossing the city, covering thousands of miles on foot, all in an attempt to capture New Yorkers and their stories. The result of these efforts was a vibrant blog he called “Humans of New York,” in which his photos were featured alongside quotes and anecdotes.
It’s an incredible project, and it’s more than just photos. Every day, millions of Facebook users are introduced to a handful of strangers, along with some of their most intimate secrets and stories. When you follow the page long enough, you begin to see what a revolutionary idea this is because it makes you understand, on a molecular level, that every single person alive is fighting their own struggle and that their moments of sadness and joy may not be felt across the world, but once they are put out there, they resonate with hundreds of thousands of people across the world. And that’s never really happened before, not as intimate, not as instantaneous, as it is now on social media.
Last week, in partnership with the United Nations, Brandon set out on a “world tour” to capture photos and stories of people outside New York. He started in Iraq and his posts so far have been heartbreaking and sensational. Because Brandon holds a very rare currency these days – the internet’s trust – and when he shows us stories from refugees, in their own words, of fear, love, despair and courage, we listen. We feel. We become connected. And that’s the only thing that can make this bleak present become a brighter future, globally.
This is one of the stories he posted today.
“The fighting got very bad. When I left Syria to come here, I only had $50. I was almost out of money when I got here. I met a man on the street, who took me home, and gave me food and a place to stay. But I felt so ashamed to be in his home, that I spent 11 hours a day looking for jobs, and only came back to sleep. I finally found a job at a hotel. They worked me 12 hours a day, for 7 days a week. They gave me $400 a month. Now I found a new hotel now that is much better. I work 12 hours per day for $600 a month, and I get one day off. In all my free hours, I work at a school as an English teacher. I work 18 hours per day, every day. And I have not spent any of it. I have not bought even a single T-shirt. I’ve saved 13,000 Euro, which is how much I need to buy fake papers. There is a man I know who can get me to Europe for 13,000. I’m leaving next week. I’m going once more to Syria to say goodbye to my family, then I’m going to leave all this behind. I’m going to try to forget it all. And I’m going to finish my education.” (Erbil, Iraq)