A Palestinian-Israeli who grew up modestly in northern Israel, Nuseir Yassin earned a scholarship to Harvard, graduated in 2014, and launched multiple online flops before landing a six-figure job at Venmo. Then, in 2016, Nas, as his friends called him, chucked it all in. Equipped with a drone, a camera, and protein bars, he set out on what was meant to be a two-month global lark, posting one 60- second video postcard a day on Facebook. Three years later, his page, Nas Daily, has 13 million followers and his videos regularly attract millions of views. In Around the World in 60 Seconds (HarperCollins, Nov.), Yassin expands on some of his most meaningful experiences.
Your book is categorized as a travelogue. How would you describe it?
It’s much closer to a Humans of New York than a Lonely Planet. This isn’t a travel book; it’s a book about humans. It’s for anyone who cares about the world in general—not just people who travel but anyone who gives a shit about someone else.
What will readers get from the book that they don’t get online?
Most of my videos are 60 seconds long. They can only fit about 200 words. There are a lot of things that I wanted to discuss about a given topic—my feelings behind it, how I ended up making a video, what happened before and after—that I couldn’t because I had this 60-second limit. Also, the average follower probably watches seven to 10 videos, so I choose the best ones from more than a thousand for the book.
Is there a video that stood out to you at the time you shot it—one in which you knew instantly that you’d have more to say about it?
All the stories that talk about Israel and Palestine, and the ones that talk about Jews and Arabs. For those, I always had more to say. When I made those videos—they’re so freaking sensitive it’s crazy—I had to be very careful about what I said. But in the book, I decided to speak candidly about my history, my childhood and upbringing, and why this idea in this chapter is important to me.
How did you maintain a positive message while reflecting difficult situations you encountered along the way?
Of course, it’s much easier to get attention and views if you talk about negative stuff. But then the viewer ends up hating something. That’s a guarantee; you end up making your viewers angry. I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to make people hate Israel or hate Palestine or hate Jews or hate Muslims. I tried very hard to stay away from that and make them at least humanize the other. The goal of the book is not “kumbaya, we’re all lovey-dovey” crap, but I do think there’s room for just not making people hate.
The idea that social media can enrich travel experiences and foster connections recurs in almost every chapter. Why is that?
When I land in a new country, I’m a tourist. I can’t become a local in one day. But it becomes easier when I have 500 Germans in front of me telling me what it’s like to be German, telling me what they want to have in the video that represents their country. The meet-ups really show you—this is the kumbaya part—that people are so fucking good. They’re nice, they’re excited, they’re energetic, they all want to showcase their country to the world. They’re sending a message to the world, and I’m just a messenger with a video camera.