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A Global Community or a Global Waste of Time? Content Analysis of the Facebook Site “Humans of New York”; Blog post by Elena Vesselinov

Please enjoy this blog post to highlight one of our exciting forthcoming articles.

A Global Community or a Global Waste of Time? Content Analysis of the Facebook Site “Humans of New York”

Blog post by Elena Vesselinov

The central research question in this article is whether the Facebook site Humans of New York (HONY) operates as a global community. The “community question” has been studied for a long time. Since Barry Wellman’s seminal article in 1979, it has become increasingly clearer that people do not need physical proximity to help each other, show compassion, empathy, support, in other words be a part of a community.

Even though our research was done long before the present health crisis, its findings have become very relevant, particularly as New York City surges ahead in COVID-19 cases. The HONY Facebook site was launched in 2011 and consists of photos, which showcase the struggles and triumphs of regular New Yorkers – not celebrities, not sports legends, not billionaires. Since 2014, the site has also published narratives of ordinary people from many countries around the world. These stories resonate with more than 18 million fans, who leave overwhelmingly positive comments, encouraging people in the photos along on their life paths. Over time, the same fans have mobilized and raised money for schools, medical care or other types of support for people featured on the HONY site.

In our empirical work, we find support that in many ways HONE does operate as a global community. More importantly, the paper demonstrates how fans consistently muster resources – emotional and material – to support complete strangers, even those living in faraway places. This important finding is reflected in today’s crisis, because every day we witness nurses and doctors risking their lives to help patients, we become aware of many people raising and donating money to local, national and international charities. I would like to think that in the end, even in the context of glaring social systemic failures, human generosity will win and help us all through this difficult time. This is also the message from our paper, and I hope that you will enjoy reading it.

Enjoy Dr. Vesselinov’s video presentation discussing the article and research results:

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