Maybe you’ve handed some change to a homeless person. Or perhaps you’ve given them a meal or simply stopped to say hello. But no matter how well-intentioned you are, the unfortunate reality is that many of us have become accustomed to the sight of homelessness, and we’re far likelier to ignore someone living on the streets rather than acknowledge them.
But would you ignore a homeless person if he or she were your family member?
In an eye-opening social experiment from New York Rescue Mission (NYRM), the non-profit organization arranged for hidden cameras to film unwitting participants walking past their family members, who were dressed up to look like they were without a roof over their heads.
It’s no surprise that nearly every person passed by their brother, sister, or uncle without blinking an eye. One man named Tom casually glanced down at his wife of 34 years before continuing on his way.
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The premise of this video asks this simple but uncomfortable question: “Have the homeless become so invisible we wouldn’t notice our own family members living on the street?”
This experiment, part of the NYRM’s “Make Them Visible” campaign, was created by ad agency Silver & Partners and directed by Jun Diaz. The director told Fast Company that the hardest part was showing the participants footage of them walking right by their loved ones on the streets, but “when they found out what it was all for, they got behind it.”
“We had to make it very clear that it could have been any of us,” Diaz added. “I’ll tell you, it would have been me.”
Hopefully this video will encourage us to take a closer look at the people we walk by everyday.