My Boycott Of YouTube (That Which Does Not Kill You Makes You Stronger)
Some of you may recall last New Year when I made my not entirely joking resolution to drive both Jeff Bezos and Amazon into bankruptcy. Some of you may further recall on February 5th when I redirected my energies from bringing down Amazon to destroying YouTube and, by extension, Google. I changed my course after YouTube demonetized a bunch of channels and completely ghosted others. I saw YouTube as the greater immediate threat to our freedoms and our democracy. The dangers of censorship, in the here and now as well as anywhere or anytime, cannot be overstated. -
Being only one person, I did what one person could do, which was to boycott YouTube and share my reasons for doing so with others. I know I’ve inconvenienced many of you who have shared a video with me, only to have me reply that I would not watch it because I was boycotting YouTube. I am pleased to say that people have been very accommodating to me and my eccentricities. Perhaps I have changed little in the way of behavior, but I know I’ve changed a few people in terms of awareness, which is the first step.
Not only have I been boycotting YouTube, I’ve switched my search engine from Google to Ecosia and my browser from Google to Firefox. It really hasn’t been that difficult for me, just a matter of changing patterns.
In fairness to everyone, I have to admit I watched two videos on YouTube since February 5. Recently the widow of my junior high school teacher informed me that she put his album on YouTube to share with everyone. For the first time in over 40 years, I got to hear Mr. Dagenhart play his song Popcorn. I do not apologize for that. The other video I watched was a moment of weakness and not worthy of mentioning. Suffice it to say I have a weakness for videos of people listening to my favorite songs for the first time. For that, I do apologize.
Other than that, I have only accidentally clicked on the occasional link to YouTube, and when I became aware of what I’d done, I scrambled to close out of it the way someone at work would scramble to close out of a porn video they’d accidentally opened. Quite a change from a person who used YouTube for everything from watching TV shows to classic boxing matches to how-to videos, etc.
Like I said, a small amount of sacrifice was involved, but for the greater part, it was merely a matter of reconditioning myself to avoid getting all my music and news from YouTube. I now subscribe to Rokfin in order to listen to all the podcasters I used to get on YouTube. I’ve been watching more on Israeli, Japanese, and Russian video hosting sites. My transition is now complete and I feel no urge to return to YouTube, Chrome, or Amazon.
Last night I briefly shared my experience on Twitter with Primo Nutmeg, a YouTube channel that announced on Twitter the censorship difficulties they were having with YouTube. I woke up this morning to their New Year’s resolution in the picture below:
A year after my resolution, a voice much louder than my own is echoing my sentiments. Coincidence? I like to tongue-in-cheek take credit for such things, but the point is it’s not about individual accomplishments or accolades but the larger current that is sweeping through us. For too long we’ve allowed ego to get in the way instead of being in touch with this larger force that moves us. We need not fear or worry about our personal inadequacies, we simply have to feel it move us. We need to believe we are part of the change we want to see happen.
A week or so ago, Jimmy Dore interviewed Robert Kennedy Jr. and made the decision not to do so on YouTube but did it instead on Rumble. It wasn’t idealism that motivated his decision but rather him being practical. YouTube has been very good to Mr. Dore but he is increasingly aware of how it is cracking down on free speech, and he is legitimately worried they will come after him if he gives them the excuse. For what I believe to have been his debut live show on Rumble, he brought in an audience peaking above 5,000. Keep in mind, the amount of people who saw it at a later date was exponentially greater. I regard this as a watershed moment, as YouTube is only going to be more authoritarian and content producers are going to be more intent on finding alternatives if they want to continue reaching an audience.
What if the intelligence agencies worked to tilt the scales in favor of tech companies they were confident would work with them and so handpicked the winners, only to have the people themselves find alternatives to what they worked so hard to construct? It would be pretty funny, wouldn’t it? And that’s really all it takes, the people finding alternatives they’re comfortable with. All it takes is for us not playing along.
We view these behemoths as unstoppable, unopposable by mere mortals like ourselves. The truth is, they are entirely dependent upon our buy-in. This is an elaborate dance they spend tremendous amounts of energy and wealth constructing. They sweep us off our feet and try not to ever let them touch the ground, because once they did we’d realize we’re quite capable of leading the dance.
A year ago I rather pompously announced that I, by myself, was going to bring down one of the biggest corporations on the planet. This year, I more modestly proclaim that we, working individually but inspired by a greater movement, will accomplish even more. They are not that big, and we have barely begun to appreciate how much we can do.