When my father was dying from cancer, I would sit in the room where he was lying in his bed, on oxygen, with little interest in anything, and play him songs from our favourite shared musical, West Side Story, on YouTube.
When my mother was in her last coma, in Hospice House, they set up an iPad for her and I made a playist for her, from some of her favourite pieces of music from the Old Country to a rendition of a liturgy-sung “our father” prayer from our church (which is also what I snagged to play when they came to get her body for the final journey to the funeral home)… on YouTube. I have no idea if she could even hear it but the familiarity of it all was probably a comfort to her.
I used YouTube to find music that moved me, and music that I honestly don’t think lives anywhere else (I had a Djordje Balasevic playlist, he was a singer/songwriter from my cradle-country whose music means a lot to me). I also used it to keep up with political podcasts with commentary on current political and social issues. I used it to keep up with the wars, and with all the Orange El Jefe’s legal shenanigans.
I use an ad blocker.
Yesterday YouTube tersely informed me that my ad blocker was now strongly verboten, and that if I did not permit their “and now a word from our sponsors” deluge to come spraying out of the firehose my time on YouTube was now OVER. It gave me an option of allowing ads on that site – if I went to the adblock icon and clicked “allow ads on this site” in theory that would work. I resent the hellandgone out of this but I caved so far as to try this, It did not work. The other option is to pay $14 a month for the ad free “premium” service.
Dudes. I don’t even pay all the monthly extortion premiums for all the balkanised streaming services – I literally can’t afford to pay four different streamers anything from $9 to $20 a month to watch a single show that they “exclusively” own and which is behind their paywall. I missed final seasons of several shows I liked because they stopped being shown on TV, where I could watch them, cancelled without closure, and then got “rescued” for a “final season”… which you could only watch on a pay to play streaming service. Ransom, baby. The ransom is a word from our sponsors.
Here’s the thing. I never ever buy anything that is shoved down my throat in ads I am forced to see. When I wailed about the YouTube situation online I was schooled about how the “creators” get paid – but in this instance the creators whose videos I watched often had their own ads embedded in their videos so that is how THEY monetised – so far as I know YouTube pays nobody to post videos on their platform and therefore YouTube’s ads and ad revenue does NOT go to pay the creatives and they are raking in money over those creatives’ backs really and using them to get revenue for themselves. But but but people said what about newspapers and magazines? TV shows? And I said, you can flip the page in a newspaper or magazine when you hit an ad and go on to read the rest of the article you were interested in without being locked out of the rest of the magazine if you didn’t read every word of the ad first. And when it comes to TV, these days I don’t watch it directly. I tape the shows I want to see, and then I fast worward through the “sponosors” every time they wade in (and even so I know way more than I want to about, say, antidepresant drugs whose side effects include depression and which you should ask your doctor if they are “right for you”) – and if I do get caught watching a show live, as it were, I tend to mute the ad and just endure the moving pictures until the image tells me that my show is back on at which point I unmute and carry on watching. Someone online berated me about how they “needed to make a living” and I didn’t give away my books for free did I? No, I don’t. I also don’t make it contingent on advertising for people to read those books. And I certainly don’t put a lock on every volume which only an ad will open before someone who wishes to see the inside of the book can get to do so.
YouTube was a source of information, and a source of entertainment, and source of memory. Three quarters of the videos you find embedded in stuff online point to YouTube as the place where those videos live. It was arterial. And now it’s just been… cut off. I can’t be the only one who can no longer access the thing. And all those podcasts that I was following, they are probably going to find their audience numbers plummetting because people just can’t get there from here.
Here’s the word from our sponsors. Everyone loses.
Dammit. I’ll miss the music.