Sonder: n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness
If you live in the New York City area and you have access to the Internet, chances are you’ve heard of the viral blog Humans of New York. The concept is simple. A man named Brandon set out in the summer of 2010 to take pictures of the people of New York City and to share a quote from his conversations with them. Since he started the blog, he’s gained over 8 million followers on social media and a #1 New York Times bestselling book. If you haven’t checked it out yet, I urge you to. I was a sophomore at Wagner when I discovered Humans of New York, and I was intrigued. I’m the type of person who, if it was socially acceptable, would walk up to a stranger on the street and try to make a new friend. Unfortunately for me, that kind of behavior in New York City is often seen as mentally unstable or dangerous. So I’ve resisted the urge and I’ve learned to blend in with the masses of people walking down Broadway with their headphones in and their heads down. However, once I discovered Humans of New York, I was inspired. There was someone else out there, like me, who was intrigued by the stories of strangers.
As I saw more posts from Humans of New York, I started thinking about how Wagner College could benefit from a page like this. At Wagner, we tend to think small. We go to a small college, on a small campus, in a small borough, with a small group of friends… but in reality, there are so many people at this school whom we’ve never even met. So many stories that we’ve never heard, and so many lessons that we could learn from each other if we just took a minute to pause our busy lives and listen. That was why I decided to start Humans of Wagner. Last March I created the Instagram handle @HumansOfWagner and started taking pictures and interviewing people on campus. I was amazed by the response and the following that the account received. Like any college campus, there are going to be a few cliques that form based off your classes or extracurriculars. Humans of Wagner is something that brings all of these different groups on campus together. It gives a clear and brief peek into the life of someone that you may not have noticed before. Or someone that you did notice, but never gave yourself the chance to learn more about. With a simple "Like" or "Comment," students suddenly feel connected to each other. And much to my enjoyment, it gives me a reason to walk up and introduce myself to random strangers without looking like a crazy person… You can check out some of my favorite posts below & follow me @HumansOfWagner on Instagram!
Humans of Wagner
"I found out yesterday I was chosen as a Fulbright scholar! I thought the government was playing an April Fools' joke on me, but it's real! All these things are happening and I'm just like, now I have to start wearing matching socks because I'm a Fulbright! I mean Lee Manchester is emailing me! The Lee Manchester!"
"Do you mind if I take your picture?"
"Ooh can I do something pretty in it??...I've played roller hockey since I was three. My parents wouldn't let me figure skate though because they said it was too gay... Surprise surprise!"
“So senior year we had the same English teacher, but I had my class on Thursday and his was Friday. So every time we would have a test, I would take the test Thursday and then go back and take his test on Friday...”
“...and I would go to his men's choir class and sing for him. And then this one day it was solo day and one out of 20 kids get picked to sing in front of the class. And I got picked. I had to get up in front of class and sing in front of everyone... The song was 'Ave Maria' and the whole thing was in Latin. So I was singing and I kept messing up the words and he just kept telling me how off my pitch was!”
"Yea, but we never got caught."
"What was your happiest moment?"
"Probably signing with Wagner and moving to New York City. Because I had been in Alaska for my whole life."
"What do you miss most about Alaska?"
"The mountains. And the moose. My pet moose. She just had twins."
"...Wait are you serious?"
"Want to see a picture?"
"I worked at Johns Hopkins this summer in an immunology lab... Ultimately I want to do hematology oncology. Basically it deals with cancer and blood... I have my own blood disorder and I've spent a lot of time in hospitals... So if I can help out and be that one person that has gone through what they're going through, maybe I can make things a little easier."
“I need to stop taking a lot of things too seriously and just learn to have more fun. I’m the kind of person who likes to always get everything right... Especially in this business, you’re looked at like you need to be perfect... You’re always competing against people and that's a big struggle for every actor. No matter if you get the part or not, you’re always going to think someone is better than you... You just have to try your best and keep your head up.”