With the VoxAdpocalypseon YouTube yesterday I canceled my YouTube Premium subscription. It will be effective as of my next billing date. In one of the many Twitter threads on the topic I posted I had done so. Actually, I did on more than one.
My statement drew this snarky reply:
The Bravery. Don’t forget to stop using your Android phone and use Bing for searches so your Google Boycott will be complete. 🤣 pic.twitter.com/4J3NLle5Yv— Billionsx2 (@Billiions2x) June 6, 2019
My first instinct was to point out that only one of those is even necessary. DuckDuckGo has been my principle search engine since at least 2010. I can’t tell you the exact date, but I know I had made the switch while still lived in College Station. I left there in 2010. I do know I was spurred to do so by a Ted Talk on how Google curated search results based on what it thought you wanted to see.
As for giving up my Android phone, I have been giving consideration to moving back to a basic phone when my current one reaches end of life. I had seriously considered an iPhone and iPad to replace my current phone and tablet, but Tim Cook’s moral crusade means I am not engaging Apple period while he is CEO. That speech even ending my Hackingtosh research.
However, I did not answer that way. Instead, I invoked my “last word rule” formed years ago on Boston Netgoth. If I go to bed when I am in a somewhat heated thread, everyone coming after me gets the last word. I will not engage them in the morning. Note, this rule was formed to ease stress among friends and friends of friends. However, I learned it serves well with relative strangers. After I was accused of political trolling on [According to Hoyt] I got very angry, but when I went to bed I invoked the “last word rule.”
Today, Sarah is giving me the occasional piece of writing career advice and the person who riled me up the most, Foxfier, seems to at least think I’m a useful addition to the joint. She might even think well of me. I doubt either would have happened if I’d sounded off.
I don’t think @Billionsx2 is someone I’d ever wind up friends with, but you never know. Regardless, why borrow stress and aggravation with someone I don’t know.
I ignored his reply and went to bed. He got the last word.
When I got up this morning @Bersbyby had answered @Billionsx2 and @Billions2x had replied. This reply was less snarky, made fewer assumptions about me just being someone talking shit on the Internet, and raised a valid point about the ubiquity of Alphabet products. It also made an analogy I thought was oh so close, but not quite.
I understand that less business and revenue is not good for a company. But Google has such a stranglehold on our data (the real money maker they sell to advertisers), unless you totally get off Google Maps, Email, Search, Chrome, Photos etc) they won’t care.— Billionsx2 (@Billiions2x) June 6, 2019
I think a better analogy would be I still need to drink, but I’m drinking more water and less Gatorade. Also, when I drink Gatorade I’m not buying it by the case, but individual bottles at retail. Gatorade is clearly YouTube and the case versus retail is Premium versus ads. Water is other sources of what I previously got via YouTube. It is BitChute, podcasts, and other video services as I discover them.
To understand wny this analogy is closer I need to explain how I came to have YouTube Premium and my prior efforts to de-Alphabet my life as much as possible.
Walks at Lunch
I walk at lunch. My normal route is my office to the Federal Reserve and back. If I go other directions, such as towards downtown, the length is similar, although there are variations in distance. I normally listen to something and wear sunglasses. The listening is in part to get my mind out of the office. Earbuds, especially when combined with sunglasses, are also a good “leave me alone” signal.
A few years ago I wanted to listen to a YouTube video I’d been linked to on my walk. Because I only had regular YouTube I could not play it in the background meaning I had to leave the phone unlocked with YouTube running in the foreground. This meant I couldn’t put my phone in my pocket. For one video who cares.
I started getting very interested in a couple of YouTubers, though, and carrying my phone got annoying. It was then I noticed that YouTube Premium allowed me to put YouTube in the background. So, for $9.99/month I figured the ability to walk and listen to what amounted to video podcasts without holding my phone was not a bad deal.
So, I paid for Premium.
The real consequence was no ads. Once I had no ads I found I was more willing to play just one more video. I would scroll the recommended bar and play something else. I started watching enough I would log into YouTube on the Roku instead of Netflix or Curiosity Stream and watch videos. My subscription count went from under 20 to well over 200. YouTube became my principle source of video entertainment, because it lacked ads.
The Alphabet Remembers
Meanwhile, I had become concerned about Alphabet’s practices around privacy. This wasn’t 100% new. As I said, I’ve been a Duck Duck Go user for close to a decade. When it does not suffice I use Qwant then Bing and only after that Google for my searches. I do use Google for searches within sites when that is what the site provides.
I was an early Gmail adopter, but started using email on my own domain about six years ago. This was less privacy than the fact I could reach my own domain’s webmail at work but not Gmail. Now I can’t reach either. I didn’t make a big push to get off Gmail at the time, although in the past year I am trying much harder, but people can’t seem to update their address books.
The trend is less just removing Alphabet and more moving to controlling my own materials. I did not replace Google Drive with Dropbox, but with a NextCloud instance running on my server space. The same is true with bookmark management, RSS reader, and a couple of other services.
I really do want to get out of the Android environment. I had planned to replace both my phone and tablet with Apple versions at bonus time this year. Then Tim Cook decided to announce a moral obligation to make sure what was in the Apple ecosphere matched his moral preferences. A huge dedication to privacy is useless if I am only able to hold what Apple lets me.
So, how do I square having kept YouTube Premium with getting rid of Alphabet products? This is where Billionsx2’s point is valid. Alphabet has become like water to the Internet. It is also impossible to avoid them completely. The reason for that ubiquity is they made the Internet much easier to use.
YouTube Premium is a huge example of that ease.
I made a conscious choice to keep YouTube Premium (and a never really used Google Music that came with). A large amount of what I wanted to watch was only available there. Even when things were available elsewhere, such as BitChute, the access was inferior. The BitChute phone client is unstable and will not work in the background. Even though I’ve had an account there over a year I did not really use it until last night. The ease of YouTube was worth the privacy concerns in my opinion.
So, What Happens Now
It is this ease that I am giving up with YouTube Premium that also breaks his analogy of YouTube being water. Will I still watch people like Five YouTubers You Should Watch? Yes, outside of Tim Pool who is on BitChute, and I will see ads on ones that are monetized and YouTube will still get the money. However, watching them and exploring will be much harder because of those ads. I will be less likely to watch just one more video. I will be less likely to explore new channels, binge watch, or add new subscriptions. If I start Swords & as a podcast later this year it will not go on YouTube, which I had been considering.
There is also one channel I will never watch again that had some regular views, Vox Pop, Vox’s music channel. This was brought to a head because a Vox employee decided to have a very public tantrum. I don’t really read Vox, so ignoring their music channel, arguably innocent victims, is my only recourse.
My pattern of usage will change and YouTube, Alphabet’s last stronghold in a once ubiquitous presence in my Internet life, will fall behind Spotify and other services.
YouTube’s independent creators will suffer the most. I do not think YouTube cares. The only Tweet I have ever made that got more than 100 likes is:
By the end of the year, YouTube will be no different than the cable package I cancelled last year.— Pulp Writer (@PulpHerb) June 5, 2019
Which is why I cancelled YouTube Premium as soon as this started.
I stand by that. YouTube has, over the past year, decided it wants to capitalize on people cutting the cord by becoming the new cable. What they fail to realize is I cut the cord in favor of YouTube in large part due to the independent creators they are routinely screwing over. They want to replace cable by becoming cable.
YouTube has forgotten the cardinal rule of “dance with who brung ya”. That is what not just this adpocalypse, but the prior two have really been about.
So, I’ll be drinking less Gatorade and trying new flavors less often. Perhaps BitChute will become Powerade and my water consumption will go down. Someone else could do that as well.
What I do know is YouTube and I are going to be seeing less of each other.
Between writing the first draft of this post and now I answered @Billionsx2 about using alternatives to Alphabet’s products. It was a positive exchange.
Which tells me the biggest lesson on this post is the value of the “last word rule.” Was I annoyed that he, with no knowledge of me, assumed in saying I ended my Premium subscription was a no nothing virtue signaling on Twitter.
Yes, yes I was.
Was he reasonable in making that assumption.
Yes, yes he was.
But I needed the sleep to see that. I needed some separation to see that and say, based on his second tweet, that it was worth engaging and showing I have given all this some thought. Above I wrote he and I probably would not be friends, but you never knew. I thought about changing it, but decided to leave it. I will note, however, I now follow him on Twitter.
If you take anything from this post, I hope it is adopting some version of the “last word rule” into your Internet interactions.