Humans of BYU was created in 2019 by BYU alumna Hannah Larson. The page, which has over 8,500 followers, showcases BYU students who have a unique perspective and individual story to tell about their lives. It has helped fellow BYU students realize they are not alone and everyone is going through something.
Larson said she tried to create a space “where people can be authentic, open and vulnerable.” The posts on the page can lead to connection, understanding and love, according to Larson.
Larson started Humans of BYU to encourage Christ-like interactions between strangers, by loving more and judging less.
The process of starting the page was difficult. She spent over 20 hours each week interviewing, transcribing and creating posts with captions to upload to Instagram. No matter how grueling the task seemed, she could do it because she felt this was her calling in life.
“When I was 16 years old, God told me that my life’s purpose was to increase love in the world,” Larson said. “I knew that whatever I was going to do with my life, I would be using my gifts and talents to basically do whatever I can to help people love, more like Jesus Christ.”
Humans of BYU has also helped BYU students discuss controversial topics and stigmas within the church community and they have been able to create a safe space for these hard conversations.
One topic that Humans of BYU has been able to openly discuss is eating disorders and the road to recovery.
“I was ready to share a story that I thought would help people. I wanted to let people know they’re not alone in feeling certain anxieties and fears that they feel,” said BYU student athlete Mary Elizabeth Lake.
Lake said sharing her story about disordered eating helped her realize “there is more to a person than the little snippet that they share on the post.”
“There’s so many emotions and experiences surrounding it. People are so complex, and everyone’s going through something. Especially at BYU,” Lake said.
Madeline Wilcox, a BYU-Idaho student, shared her past experiences with addiction to pornography on Humans of BYU.
“I think sometimes we don’t think about the impact our own story can have,” Wilcox said. “Your story isn’t just important for you, it could also be important for somebody else,” she said.”
For some, this page has helped them to share their testimony of the Savior and edify others on campus.
“There are so many people who want to put labels on themselves or others, whether they’re good or bad, but none of these labels are really important,” Wilcox said. “The only thing that’s important is the message that you are a child of God.”
Batchlor Johnson, a graduate student and football player at BYU, said he was thankful to be able to share his testimony through Humans of BYU.
“I’m super big on people thinking without limits, in terms of their potential. I wanted people to understand that we’re all divine beings. We can do anything we put our minds to,” he said.