Why I Started Avoiding YouTube

the current YouTube experience

YouTube. Lots of good here: everyone can have their voice heard and videos viewed around the world. Small guys can make money off their hobbies and businesses. People can share their passions with others. You can learn almost anything on YouTube! People can become famous – or infamous. It can be your one stop shop for music streaming. And if you pay $12/month you can enjoy all of the above ad-free!

But for some of us who don’t want to pay the premium, YouTube has become extremely annoying over the past few years. On average, every video I want to watch involves one pop-up asking if I want to subscribe to premium, two ads before the clip even starts, and the obligatory plea to subscribe and like. You may think this is normal. Perhaps you were born with this as the status quo. I am old enough to remember the early days of the net, where this was not the status quo. Those days are gone, and instead, we have to deal with the oppressive nature of Big Tech, namely Google in this case.

annoying advertising model

In case you didn’t get the memo, YouTube belongs to Google. Google, the gentle giant of high tech, gives you a lot of things “for free”. It’s not really for free. Their services are supported by a powerful advertising model. Why do you think Google shows you such good search results? Because it predicts what you are likely looking for. You pay with your personal data. Nothing is free.

Since launching YouTube Premium, Google has chosen to bombard us with these prompts to subscribe to premium. Not much different from other sites and services that have a “premium” option. The only issue is that YouTube is by far the biggest video hosting site. Odds are that if you’re looking for a video, you’ll be directed to YouTube, and not to Vimeo or Daily Motion. YouTube has a monopoly already, the ads are pumping cash into Google’s pockets, and yet they still choose to push the premium pop-up on users.

On some browsers, you can get ad-blockers that claim to block ads on YouTube. These are hit and miss: a continuous cat and mouse game, where they work for a bit, Google patches the loophole, they stop working until they make the blockers better again. Mixed results at best. So, really, there is no guaranteed way to escape the ads other than by opening your wallet. The ads are not selling the products they display. They are selling YouTube Premium by annoying the hell out of the viewer until you just decide $12/month is actually not bad to stop the visual torture. Not exactly the friendly neighbourhood Google we thought we knew, eh?

harsh censorship

Are you a kid who wants to play a Nirvana song as the soundtrack to your skateboarding video? Be prepared for your video to be removed real fast, bro! Can’t do that! I wonder how many talented people just give up on their projects thanks to the harsh censorship. There is a big difference between saying “I made this song” and listing “Nirvana” on the credits at the end of the video. It’s an overly-harsh policy which curbs creativity. Surely Google’s giant AI and all that machine learning could be used to tell the difference between someone actually stealing someone else’s work, and a kid using a song as soundtrack. Oh, wait, that doesn’t really pay, does it?

every person sounds like a broken tape

Lastly, YouTube is just very, very annoying lately because every person sounds like a broken tape. “Before we begin, hit Like, Subscribe and enable notifications”. Are you serious? I haven’t even seen the video yet. Why would I do any of these things? In fact, because you told me to do it, I won’t do it out of principle even if I did like the video. Congratulations, you just shot yourself in the foot!

the only sliver of power you still have is to abstain from watching

Maybe I sound like an old man. With tech advancing so fast, I am an old man in tech years. I remember the Internet of the early 2000s, when there weren’t so many giant sites overshadowing all else. Today, we don’t really have that anymore. Anything good on the sidelines quickly gets acquired by one of the giants, just like YouTube got bought out by Google.

The only choice, the only sliver of power you still have is to abstain from watching. Not using a service has become the only alternative to the service.

Thank you for reading!