The internet forces us to constantly experience traces of people’s lives. Comments, Facebook status updates, tweets: we stumble upon other people’s existences hundreds of times a day.
But who are these people? Beyond the screen, beyond the fragment of their being that we rapidly parse through?
With so many people as screen names it’s hard to humanise them and realise they are people with whole lives and relationships just like you.
So..random screen name, who are you?
The response was overwhelming, with almost 10,000 people summarising their existence.
The results were funny and sad, terrifyingly serious and terrifically flippant.
Pop culture references weighed in against references to deep, personal secrets. There were stories of people just starting their lives, and others telling the tales of many decades.
Some took the chance to vent their frustrations or confusions. Some stated their gratitude for their happiness. And behind the words, the writing styles betrayed pride, doubt, cultural identities and personal beliefs.
People of the Internet is a collection of these accounts, the respones stripped from their original context to highlight the beauty of the personal testimonies of each of these users
A simple PHP scraper queried each Reddit post and saved it into a database, assigning each entry a numerical value. These values are used to identify the entry in the database while they are displayed randomly on the website.
People of the Internet is actually my favourite work, as it embodies what people loved about the early web – community and communication. With the vast mass of internet users – and the increase in automated bots – it’s easy to forget that there is a complicated person behind each user name.
My only regret about the project is that it was impossible to contact all of the posters to inform them of the website and that their submission was on it. I hope they understand why I did it.