Back in 2008 I was really into YouTube, in fact I had a guitar channel with a healthy follower count and connections with guitar companies for review gear. It felt like early blogging and gave me a creative outlet I enjoyed. But something changed about 5 years later, click bait and the rise of the recommended video.
When I started out it felt like somewhere to get help on something, to share experiences or listen to product reviews. Now it seems (to me) like somewhere to go to complain about something or react to other people’s content. I feel this is mainly down to the AI being driven by giving attention to the most engaged content and in my opinion terrible thumbnails.
If you use it signed out you see the worst. Either reaction videos, which include bringing other people down or click bait. If you’re signed in obviously sticking with your subscriptions is the way to go but even then the recommendations are often littered with these same terrible thumbnails and click bait.
Most recently I just wanted to see reviews on the MacBook Air and the first 5 or so videos where why I shouldn’t buy one or why I returned it, along with the cringeworthy thumbnail. I just gave up and read some of my favourite sites instead. I just don’t find YouTube useful in the way I used to. There’s too much content unmoderated.
I’ve ended up not even watching YouTube anymore and I feel the better for it. I have more time in my day to get on, I feel calmer and I know I’m not encouraging Google to throw me more AI driven recommendations.
I’m not saying there isn’t good content on there but it’s hidden. The algorithm favours rage or extreme, not genuine content. It’s not the AI’s fault either, that’s on Google.
Just like Facebook, Google wants engagement even if it has a negative impact on people’s well-being.
So give it a try, go a day or a week or a few hours whatever you want to start but try a day without YouTube and see how you feel.