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9 Examples of Selling Out
John Spacey, August 22, 2021
Selling out is pragmatic poor integrity whereby an individual compromises what they view as right and good to obtain rewards or avoid pain. The following are illustrative examples.
CreativityThe term selling out originates in creative professions such as art, music, writing and acting whereby an individual sells out when they pursue commercial success at the cost of artistic value. The classic example is a talented musician who composes cliche music they personally dislike in order to appeal to a demographic.
Self-CensorshipIn an environment of groupthink and ideological conformance individuals may avoid saying what they think and feel but simply echo what they think they are supposed to say. This creates accountability where you are part of a group that acts badly and you said nothing.
Doing BadDoing things that you view as morally questionable in order to obtain a reward. For example, using fame to endorse and promote an unhealthy or environmentally irresponsible product that has a negative impact on people and planet.
LoyaltyThe term selling out is often used to describe a violation of loyalty for gain. For example, a soldier who switches sides in the middle of a war because they think the other side is more likely to win.Mediocrity is a pathetic state where an individual is willing to sacrifice principles without any great reward. For example, surrendering your passionate ideals for comfort and convenience such as an individual who is passionate about cooking fine meals who gives up because convenience food is easier.
Fear of CriticismIn some cases, an individual faces little oppression but still doesn't express their true ideas or creative vision out of a fear of criticism. This is a brand of mediocrity. For example, an academic who purposely makes their papers incomprehensible to make them more difficult to criticize. This may sell out their academic integrity and future as works that achieve broad influence are typically communicated well.
PragmatismPragmatism is the process of being flexible, open and realistic in order to get things done in the real world. We can try to live according to our principles but we certainly can't expect that the rest of the world will mirror our opinions. As such, pragmatism is required to achieve things in a society, system or group. For example, a socialist politician who works within a democratic society to campaign for things like free education and healthcare. This may require realistic compromises as the socialist is working within a capitalist system.
Power StructuresDoing things that are required by a coercive power structure such as a state that you feel are wrong. For example, an individual who pays taxes demanded by a state with which they disagree. This typically falls under pragmatism and is a weak form of selling out as most individuals may have little real power to resist a state.
ObjectivityObjectivity is the ability to keep your personal opinion out of your work. This is important to most professions such that it isn't considered selling out. For example, a teacher who presents an overview of a topic without introducing their own ideological opinions.
NotesSelling out implies that you do something that is against your own principles. For example, if a musician sees nothing wrong with fast food than promoting fast food isn't selling out from their perspective.
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