Humans of Olds creator is 20-year-old Nish Naidoo
Tuesday, Feb 16, 2016 06:00 am
Local resident Nish Naidoo is revealing his identity as creator of the popular Facebook page, Humans of Olds.
The page is modelled after Humans of New York, a blog started by photographer Brandon Stanton that catalogues the stories of residents in that city. In 2013, a book based on the blog became a New York Times Bestseller.
Naidoo, 20, said Humans of Olds had been receiving numerous questions about who started the page and why.
It began in January, when he originally planned to visit Toronto, in hopes of landing a job with the non-profit group Free the Children as a motivational speaker.
He didn't get it.
Instead, Naidoo decided to create Humans of Olds, a project he'd considered for a while.
He started uploading photographs of people in Olds with direct quotes from the subjects. Some of the things they talk about include where they came from, what they do and their hopes for the future.
Some are his friends; others are referred to him. The conversations he has with them range from 15 minutes to an hour.
Since the page went live this year, it has garnered more than 2,000 likes. And according to metrics that Facebook tracks, he says as many as 50,000 people are reading each post.
Naidoo said he never expected the page to resonate with so many people. He believes the reason behind its large following comes down to content.
"You have to share what people want. You can't share negative news, right? People want to be inspired. People want to feel like they're part of something," he said.
"Stories connect us to each other, they give us relevance into each other's lives. I never expected 50,000 people to read some of the stories but that's (the) amazing effect of social media and sharing content that matters."
For the past three years, Naidoo said he'd been searching for direction in his life. After graduating from Olds High School in 2013, he enrolled in the business program at Thompson Rivers University. However, he decided that field wasn't for him.
Naidoo returned to Olds with a newfound sense of civic pride, spending time volunteering and coaching minor sports.
"What I really like is connecting people and meeting people and hearing what they have to say," he said.
"What I want other people to do is connect with each other, to take this to the next level and build relationships, to build meaning in their lives. If there's something they want to do, well here's some people that are doing it.
And based on the uncertainty in 2016, with people losing jobs and everything that's going on in the world, we're going to be a community that sticks together and we're going to be all right."
Count Naidoo among those people currently searching for work. He hopes to find a job that will allow him to connect within the community.
"Ultimately I'd love to be a speaker and help people. I'm not sure what avenue I'd go about that but I love to help people."