YouTube is controlling my life (and it’s getting smarter every day)
I’m the guy that wrote a book about productivity, and I’m the same guy that helps companies to use social media to achieve better results in their business by using platforms like YouTube.
So if I’m aware of how YouTube works and how to avoid procrastination traps…. why is it that YouTube is literally taking over my life….
In the last month I decided to track how much time do I spend in YouTube vs doing useful stuff, and before I continue let me clarify that I do A LOT of productive tasks every day, in fact I’m addicted to productivity and as a single dad with 3 amazing boys, business owner, marketing consultant, my time management is my #1 priority ….
But still…. YouTube is that blackhole that seems to be getting smarter every day.
At the beginning of my Why-YouTube analysis, I tried to find an excuse to my procrastination by claiming that “I prefer to listen to podcasts on YouTube” or that “using YouTube can sometimes be useful for research and other important-stuff”.
But the truth is that instead of me using YouTube, YouTube has been using me! Its unique algorithm has find a way to trick my productivity by predicting my behaviour, my preferences and what I will like to watch in the future.
YouTube is the perfect partner: Always predicts, always gives, and always learns from previous mistakes… Always one more video… just one more little video… just keep watching other video…. please Gabriel, please!!!
Concerned about my YouTube addiction, I tracked my screen-time and I discovered that between Facebook and Youtube, those 2 apps were consuming 85% of the time I was using my phone (that is even without considering time on my laptop or desktop!)
On my phone, YouTube and Facebook have been the King and Queen of my procrastination while other apps like Chrome, Photos Alarm, Calculator, Google Maps, or Nike Run Club… only consumed the time they “deserved” based on the purpose they were serving.
In the other hand, Facebook and YouTube literally behaved in a completely different way. They had no purpose that was easy to define by a beginning and a start.
They were just there like open gates … asking me to give them everything I had, my brain cells, my concentration, my time… and obviously my DATA.
So why is so difficult to stop watching YouTube….
Well the answer is easy…: YouTube knows me well, knows you well, knows every user extremely well… in Fact YouTube is doing so well that is crushing in the engagement arena, with us…. the Adults ;)
We use YouTube a lot more than Instagram or Linkedin and even Facebook…. and regardless how much we pretend we are not hooked, we just want to keep watching, keep diving into video-rabbit holes of content and without realising we are spending more and more time “viewing” videos that we never planned to watch.
YouTube not only knows me well but also gives me everything I like and I love….
and to prove this, and to go deeper, I want to understand how much YouTube will try to change it’s recommendations based on “what the algorithm” thinks I like.
because if YouTube is the perfect partner… will YouTube change if I change?How long and how much YouTube will change if I change at the same time? Will YouTube make a serious effort to keep me hooked to it’s platform?
Before I announce my experiment is important to be open and disclaim the “state of my YouTube” situation currently….
This is what you I saw today when I open YouTube in my browser (linked to my Google account)….
My recommendations move around :
UFC, Boxing, Audi TT, Tech news, Tesla news, Body Language, Formula 1, Entrepreneurial videos, Ted Talks, European Soccer, Weird Travel news, Podcasts, crazy reality TV…. Hot ones, traveling to Japan (we just did a trip with my kids to Japan), road trips to the USA (planning a road trip next year) and funny light hearted stuff
So the challenge is:
How long it will take YouTube to ONLY recommend me Cat Videos and exclusively cat videos — considering I never watch Cat Videos.
Yes. Cat Videos.
and by saying Cat Videos, I need to be honest:
I HATE CATS.
I find cats dirty, sneaky and overall, evil little bastards.
Sorry cat people…. I’m a German Shepherd kind of guy so for for me to move to the “cat people” team … I will need to convince YouTube that in fact I loce CATS….
How low will it take YouTube to show me only cat videos
Will YouTube recommend me other content that I used to like?
how long will it take?
how many painful cat videos do I need to watch?
How many cat products will YouTube start to promote to my account and across other platforms?
Before answering all those questions, I had to tackle a few pre-process steps to be sure this experiment runs as lean as possible.
First Step: Remove temptation
I decided to “disable” YouTube app from my Pixel 4. And yes, Disable because Google will NOT LET ME UNINSTALL Youtube from the phone! Oh no… how dare you stop watching content and ads… we will let you Disable it, but NEVER remove us completely.
okay fair enough.
By not having Youtube in my phone I will increase my chances of Not failing in my “only cats videos” process.
Second Step: You don’t know me anymore Baby
To start the process I need to remove my self from channels that can give YouTube clues of my patterns, to my surprise I have subscribed to 98 channels… (go and figure) . so here are the 98 channels.
Current Subscriptions — 98!
UFC — Ultimate Fighting Championship
The Zac and Jay Show
Sarah -n- Tuned
First We Feast
A Conversation With
Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport
Jason Silva: Shots of Awe
The Fearless Man
The Daily Wire
Candace van Dell
Bus Crew AU
Motivedia — Boxing
Julia Kristina Counselling
Abroad in Japan
The Try Guys
Gabeski And Hutch
Five Point Five
Movie Trailers Ninja
Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway
The Young Turks
Pursuit of Wonder
Sailing La Vagabonde
THE LIVING FREE FAMILY
Stuart Edge Vlogs
Tony Robbins — Topic
Removing subscriptions one by one is a pain in the *ss but vital not to get “news” or related videos based on my subscriptions….
Remove Watch Later Videos
So now, with no subscriptions and no “Watch me later” , the experiment can begin.
The process: to subscribe to 1 cat video channel per day…. and watch literally 10 cat videos + like them or engage with the video..
I will try to find the longest cat video possible and leave it running in the background …. hopefully YouTube will believe my engagement equals to my unconditional love towards the cat topic…. in hand
The goal is literally to see how long it takes YouTube to revamp my feed and to force me to become a YouTube Cat Addict….
Let’s the Cat Video Games Begin. (God I’m truly going to miss YouTube for the next few weeks)….