It seems that in Pakistan something is real only if it is posted on social media. Brandon Stanton, the creator of Humans of New York (HONY), during his short visit to our country, has captured breathtaking images of our countrymen. His pictures show the world a new side of Pakistan- a side that even Pakistanis had no clue about (if one is to believe the commentary on Facebook).

To be honest, Stanton outdid himself and must be applauded. His photos have helped raise around $1.3 million through a remarkable seven-photo series depicting the struggle of a Pakistani female activist fighting against bonded labor. His intentions were good and far beyond what were expected of a photographer merely trying to capture the beauty of Pakistan.

However there is room for introspection. This class of Pakistanis, that he has impressed so much on Facebook, need to take a deeper look at the issue of their own ignorance. Is it that only when this particular foreigner came to our country were we suddenly made aware of such problems in Pakistan? Only when we leave or houses, get away from the computer screens, and not be wary of class and social boundaries, can we know what goes on around us. HONY’s subjects live only a few feet from us, in the next street, in a close by town. Poverty is all around us, from the man who sweeps the streets to the guard at the colony gate. There are a million portraits right in front of us that we don’t see. Do we need them to become viral before we address them?

Perhaps, charity and awareness in itself has become only associated with a brand or a witty hashtag. We need to be more responsible. We need to understand that it was real, before it happened on Facebook and we can do so much more for the people around us.