Richard Stallman founded the GNU Project and the Free Software Foundation. They have done a lot for the free software movment. Richard Stallman has a pretty hardcore philosophy and he is quite a character, but he is the leading role model for living life with only free software. For example, he uses a specific laptop brand because he wants to use a free bios. He doesn't use a cell phone because there are no totally free phones available. He is willing to make sacrifices to avoid something he has deemed unethical. I am not willing to make all the sacrifices he has, but it does make me concious about the software and the systems that I choose to use.
Programs like Skype and Flash can be used to monitor and gather personal information without you knowing. The only way to ensure your privacy is to run software that you know is clean and safe. I use Arch Linux as my main desktop and laptop system. I re-installed recently and decided not to install Flash. This makes a handful of sites unusable. Luckily there are some alternatives avilable.
YouTube actually supports many file types and has an HTML5 fallback format. I can watch _some_ videos without Flash on the site. Some other videos don't work though. There is a script called youtube-dl that works perfectly and downloads YouTube videos. It is also available as a FireFox plugin although I haven't tested that. You can watch the downloaded videos with VLC. On top of that, you can copy/paste a YouTube URL and open it directly in VLC! Just choose 'Open Network Stream' and paste the URL. There is another alternative out there called Gnash, which is part of the GNU Project. It aims to be a Flash alternative, though the stability is questionable. It's been around for a long time but I don't think it's seen a lot of improvement. It is listed as a high priority project for GNU, along with a Skype alternative. Ekiga is currently the best alternative I am aware of. With WebRTC recently released, I think that is going to change the entire game.