13/12/2016 04:55 SAST | Updated 13/12/2016 19:00 SAST

The Power Of The 'Humans Of New York' Stories

As a writer, I have a weakness for things wordy and deep...

Kathy Willens/Associated Press
This Oct. 2, 2013 photo shows photographer Brandon Stanton, right, creator of the Humans of New York blog, talking to Marlon Augustine in New York. Stantons magical blend of portraits and poignant, pithy storytelling has earned HONY millions of followers online.

I stumbled across the Humans of New York (HONY) Facebook Page in early 2014. Even though I don't really recall which picture it was that captured my heart, I remember that I was hooked from the very first post I read. I'm actually convinced, that what converted me into a lifetime fan is more the captions than any of the pictures. This is probably because as a writer, I'm a self-confessed sucker for all things deep and wordy.

Then 2015 happened, and I eventually joined the millions of new users of Instagram; that's where I decided to move my loyal following of the HONY stories. That also prompted my hoarding of innumerable screenshots of stories about people I'll never meet. For me, Humans of New York, sealed the belief that even though we might be strangers who are segregated demographically, we are still brought together by the same stories that encapsulate the core of who we are as human beings.

I believe the greatest role that HONY continues to play in a lot of people's lives, is constantly helping us understand, that regardless of the differences that have always threatened to keep us apart, we are still very much the same.

The stories of HONY remind me of my purpose every day, a self-awareness that's inspired by the shared snippets of stories that have helped me continuously reflect on my own life. They always seem to remind me, not to take any moment of my life for granted. One can't help but feel a sense of camaraderie when realising that sometimes we are all just fighting the same battles, and we actually have similar hopes and desires.

With HONY, we are finally able to understand that we are all just a bunch of scared and sometimes confused people, scrambling to make sense of this difficult and beautiful thing, called life. HONY has zoomed in on very diverse kinds of people, who can still somehow resemble some part of all of us, exposing our deepest yearning of becoming better people, a universal struggle that I've discovered goes beyond any race or gender.

When I decided to expand my interest in HONY by reading the book, I expected that the book would be based on stories captured before my time as a follower. I was really excited to introduce myself to more of photographer Brandon Stanton's great work.

It didn't surprise me that the first book is more focused on the pictures. In the foreword, it gives the background story of how Humans of New York came into existence, and Brandon explains that the captions that go with the pictures now, only became an addition later on in the journey.

We really can't run away from the fact that even though Humans of New York is the creative birth of a photographer, the combination of both story and picture has contributed to the incredible success of what HONY is today.