Pittsburgh nurse makes TikTok videos of strangers' love stories – Insider

When Hunter Prosper offered to help his elderly neighbor move her trash cans three years ago, he didn’t expect the moment would lead to a conversation about her first love.
Prosper, a 26-year-old nurse, is the creator behind the viral TikTok series “Stories from a Stranger,” which racks up millions of views on a single post. After he helped his neighbor, Prosper asked if she’d speak with him for the video series. He learned her name was Helena, and they sat on her porch while she told him a tale reminscent of “The Notebook.”
Helena told Prosper she was charmed by an English man named Anthony when she was a teenager, and they fell in love. She said he ended up being deported, but she wrote letters to him, heartbroken and yearning to reconnect with him one day. She went years thinking Anthony never responded to them, but Helena said she later learned it was because her mother hid the letters he sent back.
Following the interview, Prosper saw Helena the next day. But she seemed to have completely forgotten him, introducing herself with the same cheery demeanor as their initial meeting. When it happened a few more times, Prosper realized she would never remember him. 
With each meeting, Helena’s kind spirit never waned, and Prosper says her warmth has always stuck with him.
“I feel like that juxtaposition, where I got to make a best friend and she got to make a new friend every day, that really impacted me a lot,” he said.
Prosper had been working as a nurse for a year and a half in his hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania when the pandemic hit and he got the idea to start his now-popular TikTok series.
Burnt out and overwhelmed caring for COVID-19 patients in the ICU, Prosper decided to speak into his camera about a patient who died and share it on TikTok. Even with the video’s simple format and the patient’s anonymity, it garnered a million TikTok views and comments from viewers who said it pushed them to take care of their mental health and deepen connections with loved ones. Prosper felt better too.
“I was like, ‘I don’t want to stop doing this because I’m getting two forms of therapy. I get to give my emotions to the camera, and then I also get to hear feedback from people, which is also healing me as well,” Prosper said.
At his girlfriend’s suggestion, Prosper branched out to strangers in his Pittsburgh neighborhood, stopping to interview anyone who crossed paths with him on the sidewalk and happened to make eye contact.
Prosper now has 5 million TikTok followers and the 30-second videos from his series consistently go viral on the app. He now works as a travel nurse based in San Francisco, and told Insider his video diaries and healthcare job go hand-in-hand, offering him ways to connect with humanity in a world that feels increasingly isolating.
Some strangers ask Prosper to stay in touch and exchange phone numbers. He said he’ll never forget a stranger-turned-friend named Clifford, a man he interviewed until the sun went down, who talked to him about finding love after growing up with an abusive father.
Prosper said it “meant the world” to Clifford to see his story comfort people and make them rethink their relationships.
“So he always keeps in contact with me to make sure the video’s still helping people,” Prosper said.
Prosper said he’s picked up lessons along the way, like learning to be present in the moment, which has been an unexpected perk of making the series.
When Prosper interviews a stranger, it allows him to slow down, think, and reflect. Now when conflicts arise, like with his girlfriend, he’s noticed he takes a more curious approach instead of becoming upset or confused.
“These videos made me say, ‘What’s the point of not talking?’ You might as well just say what’s on your mind. You might as well tell them exactly how you feel,” Prosper said.
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