"If you want the people to understand you, invite them to your life and let them see the world from your window!"
So wrote Turkish novelist and playwright Mehmet Murat ildan. And while I have no idea how many members of the Facebook group View From My Window know his work, they seem to have taken the sentiment to heart. The group—open to all for viewing, though posting is by invitation only—asks people all over the world to show what they see from their windows during this time of quarantine.
Rules for the photos are strict: They may not be promotional in any way and cannot contain profanity or anything else that might be offensive. The text is always in English, though there are members of the group from all parts of the globe. And no square photos are allowed. This is Facebook, not Instagram.
The results are a compelling collage. There are images that inspire jealousy, like the ocean views from Marbella, Spain; the perfectly framed vista of the Duomo in Florence; fall foliage in a gorgeous Australian garden; and the many users whose views overlook lakes, mountains, cobblestoned European streets, and flower-filled meadows.
Sometimes it is the accompanying text that makes an impact. With each photo, contributors add a short paragraph about the view and about their lives right now.
A Japanese poster writes about living opposite a new, eerily empty hotel built for this year's Olympics, which have now been postponed.
A New York City nurse based in Staten Island shares her backyard view and discusses its outsize role in her world right now. Because she works with postpartum mothers who have tested positive for coronavirus, she now has to live in just one part of her house with a large sheet of opaque plastic separating her from the rest of her family.
I was moved by the post of a grieving Texan whose fellow art teachers created a temporary butterfly sculpture in her yard to commemorate her boyfriend, who passed away at home last week from a non-Covid–related disease.
But what struck me most about the page was that it showed—finally—how social media can be truly social. Strangers from every country under the sun send best wishes, ask for gardening tips, express condolences, and are simply human with one another. They share, in the way that travel used to, the fascinating details of what everyday life looks like in distant lands.
Most important, the group has formed a supportive community at a time when community feels like it's in short supply.
Visit the page. It will raise your spirits.