Yousef Saleh Erakat, aka FouseyTube, is a 29-year-old YouTube vlogger and prankster with over 10 million subscribers to his channel. Born and raised in Fremont, California, Fousey started his YouTube career with an upload on March 25, 2011 titled “fouseyTUBE INTRO PARODY.” His content over the year has changed from comedy skits and social experiments to pranks. He got noticed in 2012 thanks to the skits based on his American-Palestinian family.
YouTube has always evolved at a fast pace when it comes to changing content trends, and it is hard to see what the confident faces of these stars hide. Fousey himself has said, “No one walks around like that 24/7; you haven’t seen who I am when I’m by myself.” So, what’s the real Fousey like?
The future social media star grew up as the youngest of four siblings. Two of them, Ahmed and Noura, are a pediatrician in New York and a legal scholar, respectively, and have made appearances on the DoseofFousey vlog channel.
Fousey is considered to be the shyest of the siblings, but his love for entertaining people emerged long before any of his online platforms. “He used to be the star of all the home videos we made,” says brother Ahmed.
Encouraged by his family, especially sister Noura, Fousey attended San Jose State University to study theatre. He had Hollywood aspirations and decided that YouTube was his ticket to getting noticed. Even though his professor advised strongly against it, Fousey decided to take YouTube and social media seriously. He later said, “It wasn’t all luck; it was my hard work that paid off.” The then 22-year-old was loved by the audience for his middle eastern-flavored skit, collecting 12 million views at the start. Cena Mahmood says, “I like the fact it was directed towards middle easterners because it’s something we could relate to.”
After putting his name on the map, Fousey diversified his content and moved to non-scientific social experiments and pranks to increase his audience. Such experiments featured prominently on his YouTube channel, where he tried to incorporate an underlying message for his entire online family. Among his most popular social experiments are “WHAT IF THE HOMELESS GUY GAVE YOU MONEY?” and “THE HOMELESS CHILD EXPERIMENT!” with 40 million and 32 million views, respectively.
By 2012, the YouTuber had made it into mainstream media. He attended The Palestinian Film Festival, hosted fundraisers, and started his own tour. At the time, it was amazing that a social media celebrity could have such pull. Fousey even said, “It’s become something much bigger than I would have expected, A couple of years ago, these people wouldn’t even recognize me being in the same room.”
When and how did things go bad for Fousey?
Fousey suffered from bipolar depression long before he started his career, and his condition became more prominent while he was at San Jose State University. He’d go to parties at the weekend, have fun, and be a larger-than-life persona in front of everyone, but when alone, “All I did was cry and write poems,” he shared.
He had been on medication for years, always striving to find peace. Bringing a smile on people’s faces through his content was one way of dealing with depression. However, fame and love are accompanied by a lot of hate. Fousey’s condition worsened over the years, and in 2015, he decided to open up about his battle with depression on DoseofFousey. Weighing 236 pounds and dependent on medication, Fousey was having a tough year, but opening up to his fans gave him a short-term goal: doing a 90-day rehab program and improving his mental health. On August 16, 2015, he came back with a video titled “FIGHT FOR YOUR HAPPINESS:WEIGHT LOSS MOTIVATIONAL SPEECH!”. The clip opens with Fousey explaining how things started to go downhill after he moved to Los Angeles, with the separation from his family worsening his depression and addiction.
Many believe coming forward may have helped Fousey in his journey, but in retrospect, it damaged his credibility: crying on camera and opening up may have been his worst decision in terms of career impact. It made Fousey a target for the other creators on the platform, who labeled his video a “clout chasing stunt,” and even some of his fans turned against him for being “overly sensitive” in subsequent videos, where he talked more about his problems.
In November that year, Fousey decided to take a break from YouTube and posted a video titled “GOODBYE FOR NOW.” He let his fans know that he appreciated their love and support through all the hardships he’d experienced during the year but needed time to process all of it.
Taking time off YouTube is a high-risk move. Consistency in the upload schedule is key, and all top celebrities on the platform abide by this rule. Fousey lost touch with his audience, which took a heavy toll on his view and subscription counts. His average daily views plunged by as much as 60%, crashing from an average of 800,000 per day to 300,000.
The story behind July 15 and suicidal claims
Fousey returned to social media for a while, trying to grow his following back to where it once was. However, he got into a controversial fight with Vitalyzdtv in 2018, exposing the infamous Russian prankster for assaulting women in Brazil. Fans assumed it was a fake PR fight to get in on the boxing action surrounding YouTube at the time with Logan Paul vs. KSI.
That wasn’t it, though, and things between the two stars got worse by the day as they exchanged accusations. It ended with Fousey admitting to some of his pranks and videos being fake, which dealt another severe blow to his already plummeting YouTube channel.
Shortly after things settled down, Fousey decided to throw a last-minute concert on July 15, calling it “HATE DIES, LOVE ARRIVES.” He aspired to get out of the daily YouTube grind and think about the bigger picture. Affected by the drama and controversies over the year, he wanted to find a new way to reach his fans.
He told Adam22, “When I was chasing the numbers, chasing the fame, I did some shit that literally sold my dignity for views and money. That’s YouTube. You start putting on an act. You become a slave to the numbers. You start doing shit that you wouldn’t do in your actual life.”
Despite the good intentions, the event turned out to be a disaster. Fousey planned and put together in seven days, naively promising performances by Drake and Snoop Dogg. As 50,000 people streamed online, he was forced to cancel the event due to an alleged bomb threat and evacuate the 1,500 spectators to a nearby parking lot. There, he stood atop a car and addressed the situation, guilty and embarrassed. He told his audience not to let what happened affect their night. Over the next few days, Fousey addressed criticism over his false advertising and admitted there was no artist guaranteed.
His fans forgave him but were still concerned about his mental health. Two months later, Fousey decided to give up on his main channel, which had over 10 million subscribers. By that point, he had become an online symbol for self-destructive drama. He went on to release a video (which was later taken down) saying, “I don’t have social media anymore. I don’t upload videos myself anymore. You wanna know why? Because whenever…my brain saw a negative comment, it triggered my thoughts of suicide immediately, ‘cause that’s an issue that I have. Especially now, being off of medications and being able to feel so freely for the first time in my life — the second I saw anything negative, even if I read one hundred thousand positive things, my brain got triggered.”
In the wake of these comments, his channel was turned into a community for low-profile creators, asking them to consider it a platform for showcasing their content to get recognition. He also uploaded a video of himself buying a car for his Uber driver, whose vehicle he had damaged on July 15 by climbing on top of it in the parking lot. His fans criticized the footage, saying it defeated the whole purpose and expressing confusion to see him again after his previous goodbye.
After taking a year off, Fousey returned to YouTube recently, trying to pick up where he left and fix his mistakes. His career can serve as a lesson for all upcoming influencers because he did rise to fame and deserves appreciation for starting boldly eight years ago by saying, “You don’t know me, I don’t know me, he doesn’t know me, but trust me, you will know me.”
One key takeaway is that social media personalities have to stop thinking about their view count and subscribers. These numbers measure success in the virtual world, but a balance is necessary to maintain control in real life and avoid doing things just for the sake of numbers.
On the other hand, social media stardom opens the door to influencer marketing, which requires a following. Like it or not, an influencer can get compromised by opening up their personal life, as Fousey’s case has demonstrated. Anyone aspiring to be an influencer can use his career as a blueprint for success while learning from his mistakes.