One of America’s sweetest exports just landed in the Middle East. It’s a viral sensation that’s highly addictive. It won’t cause obesity or high blood sugar, but exposure requires immediate “open-your-heart” surgery!
Humans of New York  (known to fans as HONY), is a Facebook phenomenon  that truly exploits the power of social media while avoiding all its squalor. Its creator; a gentle man who chats to strangers and takes their pictures, producing poignant tales of modern life. His simple posts evoke thousands of comments, but not a snarky one in sight. What’s his game?
Since 2010, photographer Brandon Stanton has walked the streets of New York City, capturing astounding human stories with just a snapshot and a phrase. Now, working with the United Nations Millennium Development Goals project, he's taking HONY on a 50-day, ten nation tour  beginning in Erbil, Iraq.
Talk about timing! (His arrival coincided with capture of Mosul Dam by the Islamic State.) He stopped in Kalak, Dohuk and Shaqlawa before travelling to Jordan where his camera offered people from Petra to Amman their “15 minutes of fame." In just one week, this foray into the Middle East has gained him 250,000 new followers!
HONY fans are active players in his theater; over nine million followers freely comment on his posts. They react openly, declare new understanding, and share their own stories of sadness or joy. He packs the power of a novel into a micro-format that takes mere seconds to absorb. Life-affirming tales open windows that incite deep human connections.
His original fans were New Yorkers, curious to peek inside the strangers they pass daily on their streets. Turning his lens now to the world - folks facing war, displacement and poverty on a catastrophic level, he invites remote viewers to look beyond stereotypes and see others for what we all are: just humans.
Stanton believes we each have a story worth hearing and we benefit from listening too. “We hope this trip may help to inspire a global perspective,” he writes in his blog, “while bringing awareness to the challenges that we all need to tackle together.”
Implausible, but true: two weeks of HONY images have introduced the Middle East to America (and to everywhere else HONY fans live) in a fully accessible way, offering quiet counterbalance to persistently politicized media coverage. Watch empathy go viral.
We bring you some of his recent postings. Visit his site for more natural poetry of ordinary people  and see for yourself the best thing on Facebook.