Every day I look at the people who pass by on the street, in shops, cars, where they are walking, standing, talking, waiting. And even though I do not know them, speak to them, and will probably never see them again, they give me a real sense of what it means to be human: I pick up on a certain expression on their face, the way they dress, I imagine what kind of person they are, where they came from, what brought them here, and I know that I’m probably wrong about all of these things. There might be complex personalities and life histories behind each and every one of these people, but I will never know them, and that’s ok. Most of life is in the end just a long sequence of simple and mundane everyday situations, and it makes me happy to think that I got to catch a chance glimpse of these people and their lives.
Every day I hear stories about people through the media, through newspapers, tv reports or self-curated social media feeds, and I don’t believe any of them. I read about important people making important decisions, see people enjoying travel to beautiful locations, neither of which has much resemblance with the lives of people as I see them every day. Even if I hear the heart-wrenching “human interest” story about the struggles of some small, unknown person, instead of feeling a connection to this distant stranger it just leaves me feeling empty. I can never shake the feeling that instead of connecting to the person itself I am just told one biased take on them, already geared towards grabbing my and other people’s attention, an angle pre-selected for its relatability, more telling of the storyteller than of its subject. None of the stories that I hear seem representative of the world as I see it every day.
I made this map to help me bridge that gap. I wanted to create an unbiased view of all these individuals spread out over the planet, and have a direct look at the places where they spend their everyday life. I wanted to draw a more representative picture of the world and its people that allows me to relate to people outside my direct perception in the same naive way that I do every day on the street. To do people-watching of everyone alive on this planet today.