The M Dash

For the Woman with #BetterThingsToDo

Why I Can’t Stop Reading “Humans of New York”

If you need further proof that sometimes the simplest ideas are the best ideas, look no further than Humans of New York. On the site, photographer Brandon Stanton publishes portraits of a diverse range New Yorkers, all accompanied by a short story or quote. The blog serves as a poignant reminder that every human has a distinct voice, a unique perspective, and a powerful story to tell. Believe me: Once you start scrolling, you will laugh, cry, and most importantly, you’ll feel.

Think of it as street style, minus the focus on fashion and the layer of pretension that often comes with it. Stanton is utterly democratic in his portraiture, shooting everyone from the homeless to the city’s power players, and giving each of their stories equal weight. Their quotes might be short, long, wise, funny, smart, inspiring, or depressing, but they all have one thing in common: They’re rife with humanity.

Now that Stanton has released a book based on the blog, he’s getting the wider recognition that he rightly deserves. Below, a few favorites from Stanton’s amazing collection.

“Sometimes, when I’m going home to see her, I think: ‘Nobody should be this happy on a Tuesday.’”

“We’re in the middle of a breakup.”
“Why are you broken up?”
“I didn’t say we were broken up, I said we are in the middle of a break up.”

“We go to four appointments every week, but I don’t mind. She’s my blood.”

“All the women in Pakistan are very covered up. I came to America for the first time on September 4th, so it was still very warm outside. I stepped into the terminal at JFK, took a look around, and said: ‘Oh. My. God.’”

“I’m working on my PhD in English, with a focus on poetry.”
“So how would you define a good poem?”
“It’s a good poem if I’m a different person when I’m finished reading it.”

“I can’t stop and talk. I have one more to pick up.”

“If you could give one piece of advice to a large group of people, what would it be?”
“When a wave comes, go deep.”
“I think I’m going to need an explanation for that one.”
“There’s three things you can do when life sends a wave at you. You can run from it, but then it’s going to catch up and knock you down. You can also fall back on your ego and try to stand your ground, but then it’s still going to clobber you. Or you can use it as an opportunity to go deep, and transform yourself to match the circumstances. And that’s how you get through the wave.”

“My daughter lives in Pennsylvania. She’s working at a nursing home and studying to be an accountant. She’s my pride and joy.”
“Does she know you’re homeless?”
“No, she’s got enough to worry about. I just tell her that I’m retired.”

“I’ve had a lot of exciting jobs.”
“What was the most exciting?”
“Well, after Brown vs. The Board of Education, I was responsible for enforcing desegregation in eleven Deep South school districts.”

“I’m in marketing.”

(All photos by Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York)

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Tory Hoen is the Creative Director of Brand at MM.LaFleur and the founding editor of The M Dash. She has written for New York Magazine, Bon Appétit, Condé Nast Traveler, and Time Out New York. Current home base: Brooklyn. Current spirit animal: serval. Read more of Tory's posts.

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