“Sonder” is the sudden realization that you’re not alone.
And that we’re all the same.
Sonder is the realization that every person you know feels the same joy, worry, excitement, anger, pride, confusion, confidence and self-doubt you feel. (And so do the people you don’t know: strangers on a bus; strangers in an elevator.)
Sometimes we forget that we’re not alone, that we’re all going through the human condition together.
Most times actually.
That’s why Sonder is a profound sensation.
(Feeling it means you’re full of empathy, which is, of course, a good thing. If you cannot feel empathy, being a good person is hard. And being an effective marketer is impossible.)
It’s also a fleeting, ephemeral sensation. It’s there and then it's gone.
And that makes me wonder:
Can Sonder be induced?
That is, can you FORCE yourself to see the world through a more empathetic lens, one that will help you create better, more compelling work?
I think so…
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The best street photography shows us the peculiarity of life, the inconsistency of life, the absurdity of humanity, the ugliness of human beings, the tenderness of human beings, the likeness of human beings.
That’s why browsing street photos is a good prequel to writing copy. (Think of it as an emotional warmup.)
And some of the best street photos ever created were taken by these 3 people:
Maier photographed Chicagoans:
Doisneau photographed Parisians:
Winogrand photographed New Yorkers:
Did you look? I mean really look?
And do you feel less alone now?
I do. If only for a moment, I do.