“Humans of New York” (HONY) is a social media phenomenon that has quickly grown into a deep, storytelling photoblog of the culture and people of the city of New York. The page constantly posts pictures of people with captions explaining the experience of meeting the person or direct quotes. The page turns the lens on people who might otherwise go unnoticed. With HONY’s rising presence in social media, junior Joseph Kao has recently created “Humans of Paly High” (HOPH), a branch stemming from the “Humans of” movement and Internet phenomenon.
The success of HONY has influenced many students in schools across the U.S. to create similar pages inspired by the original “HONY” page—in the local Bay Area, Facebook pages such as “Humans of Saratoga High” and “Humans of Palo Alto” are also well-known and attract much attention from both students and entire communities over social media.
Kao is one of many students who has been inspired by HONY. His goal for his Facebook page is similar to that of Brandon Stanton’s, the creator of HONY, as he aims to portray the unique lives of those who form the student body of Paly.
“I created ‘Humans of Paly High’ because I wanted to show all the different and unique people at our school that others don’t get to see,” Kao said. “Everyone has an interesting story to tell, and something that has impacted them immensely in their life.”
Kao hopes that his page will provide a medium like Facebook that will allow for all students to share their stories, and that HOPH can give faces, names and life chronicles that were previously hidden a place where they may be shown to the people of Paly.
“HOPH, one story at a time,” reads the “About” section of HOPH. “Dedicated to the unique individuals at our school. Inspired by HONY, ‘Humans of Palo Alto’ and ‘Humans of Saratoga High.’” The stories communicated through HOPH give students who usually lack the medium to express their lives and individual selves a place in which they may do so. “I will try to get around and interview all kinds of people to give them a voice,” Kao said. “Usually people have a funny, witty story that they want the world to know, or one specific story that they really want to tell.”
Kao’s HOPH page features a diverse assortment of people at Paly with everything from photographs of students to advice from principal Kim Diorio. The features on his page range from deeper, more profound stories to lighthearted and comical anecdotes, allowing a wide variety of people to find enjoyment, and even pictures of themselves, in his page. Kao also wants all students to feel welcome to broadcast their stories to the community of Paly.
“There is no criteria for who I interview, so even if you don’t know me, come up to me for an interview,” Kao said. “I’ll do one for you sooner or later. Don’t be shy, I’m a nice guy!”
Although HOPH is still not as large as Humans of Palo Alto or as other “Humans of” pages, Kao is eager to grow his site into something larger and more respected by the community of Paly and Palo Alto as a whole. Even after his approaching graduation, Kao hopes that the page he has begun in order to represent the Paly community will continue to grow after he graduates from school.
“My hopes for the future of this page is that it will become a huge project like other high schools throughout Silicon Valley and that it continues to grow at a fast pace with an increased number of photographs that will last for many generations,” Kao said. “I am definitely open to hiring other photographers, and I already have a few friends that want to help and we will be figuring out the logistics. I’ll probably pass [the [page] down to someone else who has the deep passion to be in charge of the page [after I graduate]. I love this school and wanted a page that directly represented Paly High, and so far, it’s going in a great and improving direction.”