Internet

Champion for change

Amidst the sea of entertainers on the global platform that is YouTube, Bengaluru-based Niharika Nm has made it to the forefront. The third-year engineering student was recently chosen as one of the global ambassadors of Creators for Change — a YouTube initiative, which uses influencers to generate awareness and engage their audience regarding relevant social issues.

This is the second time she has been chosen for the initiative, and this year Niharika will be representing India alongside three other big names in the industry — All India Bakchod (AIB), MostlySane, and Girliyapa. Her first experience with Creators for Change involved her being flown to London by YouTube to attend their Social Camp. “It’s basically a camp in which influencers from around the globe are trained on how to make an impact with their content; to create videos that make a difference,” says Niharika, adding that being in such an environment pushes creators to learn about different cultures and helps them realize that the same problems exist in every country, just to varying extents.

But why make videos on YouTube? Niharika says she has always had a love for theatre. Growing up, she had always been attracted to plays and movies, but the idea of being a part of such productions seemed too wishful. She recollects having been introduced to YouTube when she was in Class 10, but it was nearly three years later that she started expressing herself on the Internet through her videos. She gained popularity through short, funny skits, entertaining viewers with her own brand of observational comedy. Two-and-a-half years later, she has amassed 136K followers.

When asked at what point she realized she had made it big, she answered, “I remember going to the mall and having fans run up to me, asking to take pictures. It was surreal, mostly because a lot of them were my age, or slightly younger.” This incident occurred after her second video, ‘Types of Students Before an Exam’, went viral, garnering her 10,000 new subscribers in just one week. “My dad was even sent a link to one of my videos through Whatsapp by a friend. That was when I knew I had made it,” she says.

Champion for change

The Creators for Change initiative, which was launched in 2016, aims to tackle problems such as xenophobia, hate speech, extremism, and destroy social stigmas. It allows YouTubers to stay true to themselves while addressing issues, sometimes those that they have faced themselves. The social impact videos made by the chosen creators have garnered over 60 million views, and camps connected to the initiative have trained nearly 15,000 young people at over 200 locations across the globe, according to the official YouTube Creators website. The initiative’s mission includes teaching young Internet users how to tackle hate speech, identify fake news, break stereotypes, and spread positivity in their communities through workshops.

Niharika is no stranger to hate herself. “Hate is a by-product of becoming an influencer. I almost quit when I first started on YouTube, because the hate was that intense; it definitely got to me.” The overwhelming support from family, friends and fans motivated her to keep going. She was also greatly supported by Tanmay Bhat of AIB during the early stages of her channel. “I couldn’t believe that someone so influential in the industry was rooting for me, it was unfathomable.”

Hate is a by-product of becoming an influencer. I almost quit when I first started on YouTube

Niharika says balancing college and her online persona is a challenge. “I essentially have no time to hang out with my friends. If anything, I get to spend quality time with them once every few months between my college schedule and YouTube. It is harrowing, but on the other hand, so worth it.” She is now looking forward to completing her degree so she can commit herself to creating videos and use her influence in the right way..

Niharika’s video with Creators for Change, 2017, titled ‘Things People Should Stop Saying to Women’, tackles everyday sexism and has garnered over 408K views.

Her next video for the initiative is set to release sometime in September, 2018.

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Printable version | Nov 19, 2020 5:01:27 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/internet/champion-for-change/article24329592.ece

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