I reject the claim that mass media is a “vast wasteland’ because anywhere online you can find stories about good people doing good things. Awhile back I got sick of having my feed clogged up with click-bait and trashy headlines. So, I made a proactive effort to rid my feed of everything I didn’t want to see, and fill it with happy, cultural, or beautiful things. If someone claims that all social media is a “vast wasteland’ I don’t believe they are trying hard enough to find content they thoroughly enjoy.
As a photographer I make sure I am surrounded by inspiration everywhere. My social media platforms are saturated with other photographers works. On Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, or just general online activity, I search for photographers with different genres, styles, or career paths.I love finding inspiration for my own shoots, but I also love seeing what each person is working on at the moment, most people have incredibly inspiring projects. For instance, I follow a lot of the National Geographic photographers, and it’s amazing to see where they are and what story they are trying to tell.
I think one of the most popular reasons you can find when demonstrating why mass media is not a wasteland is in the social media campaign, “Humans of New York’. HONY was a blog based photographic experiment that soon exploded on Facebook with a more stable platform. Brandon Stanton was working as bond trader in 2010 when he lost his job. He decided to buy a camera because he had always had an interest in photography. HONY features portraits from around New York City, along with some photographs from a world tour. These portraits, sometimes public, sometimes private, are presented with snippets of conversations.
Brandon likes to ask the difficult questions when talking to people, which creates these intensely intimate stories. HONY creates a window into other people’s lives and the lessons they’ve learned. Sometimes the oldest patrons are the wisest, sometimes its the youngest. HONY presents all walks of life on the same playing field, and often people from all over the world and entirely different backgrounds can connect with the triumphs and struggles presented. There are stories of life long love, long lost love, economic struggle, drug abuse, family, successes and failures, and everything in between. I love that HONY isn’t about the person, it’s about the story they’re telling, and what others can learn from them.
A couple months ago Brandon took HONY to go tell the story of Mott Hall Bridges Academy, an impoverished school in Brooklyn, NY. MHBA is in one of the worst neighborhoods in New York City, Brownsville, and HONY sought to tell the stories of many of the students, teachers, and the principal. All of the amazing adults at the school dedicate so much of their time and energy to the success of the students, they are all an inspiration. One of the goals while HONY was covering their story was to raise enough money for the students to take an annual trip to Harvard University. There was overwhelming support from all around the world, they raised more then enough money to fund the Harvard trip for decades to come; as well as start a scholarship fund for MHBA scholars.
I love having mass media available at my fingertips because everyday I am able to find a story of encouragement, or inspiration. I find things that are aesthetically pleasing for me, and things that spark a creative idea. I find things that make me cry because I can relate, or make me cry tears of joy. I love being able to connect with the world at any given time.