On not being a sell-out – 93

PhD Life

This one is not going to be related to my escapades as a PhD student as I have something else I would like to write about.

It is something that I have been thinking about for a few years, but I have not had my thoughts gathered sufficiently as to explain them to you until now – I hope.

I still do not know if there is a word for this phenomena, so perhaps you can let me know. It is the idea of taking advantage of those less savvy than yourself for your own personal gain. I wouldn’t say that it was exploiting, but approaching that kind of idea.

We all do it to some degree, if we sell something we rarely do it at cost, we add on a margin. This type of capitalisation is not precisely what I mean, there is more of a moral component to what I am thinking of.

The main arena for the kind of behaviour I am thinking of is marketing and PR. I first noticed in the music industry. Take a look at any famous band, and you will see that they have an anti-establishment vibe to them, yet regularly will appear in commercials selling things.

I recently saw an advert for Beats headphones – I can’t think of a brand trying to be more mainstream – which used Billie Eilish as the model. I don’t know much about her, but from what I do, she presents herself as very alternative. So when you see her in an advert for beats headphones, you may sense an abundance of inauthenticity. The younger me would not have noticed this, but I am starting to see inconsistencies like this more and more.

Essentially my question is if you can, should you exploit your unsuspecting followers/fans/fellow humans for your own gain?

After all ‘there is a sucker born every minute’.

Should I exploit the suckers?

It feels as though everyone else is.

It almost feels as if it would be a subversive act to not ‘sell-out’. A pursuit that never fails to be undervalued.

There have been many instances where I have seen ‘influencers’ point their audience towards a website, that they have been paid to promote for their followers to get scammed. One apology video later, after taking large sums of money from the suspect paymasters, and the whole ordeal is forgotten about.

Rinse and repeat. The sheep are being fleeced etcetera.

Politicians used to tell lies to try and make the data fit, they don’t even bother doing that any more. They just say what they want and deal with the minority of people calling them out, mainly by dismissing it as fake news.

So as a someone who is relatively tech-savvy, it would be easy for me to exploit all of you – those reading this.

The question is… Why shouldn’t I? After all, everyone is getting away with it.

There are a lot of people, it would seem, that are happy to take things at face-value and do not think on it any further.

Should the ‘strong’ pray on the ‘weak’?

Anyway, use the offer code ‘SlowDegredationOfOurMoralFibre’ for ten percent off of that thing that the person you look-up to has and therefore you need.

Published by Louis

Spend less than you earn, Invest the surplus, avoid debt. Eat food, not too much, mostly plants

42 thoughts on “On not being a sell-out – 93

  1. I think in the end you’ve got to live with yourself, and people exploiting (or almost exploiting) others aren’t happy with themselves even though they’d never admit to the lonely lives they lead, worrying about who’s going to exploit THEM, and wishing they had true friends in whom they could confide. Exploiting for money’s sake . . . money ain’t all that, but friends and love and integrity ARE all that.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. I have moral reasons for why I would not wittingly exploit my blog followers. I also have non-moral reasons. I think the non-moral reasons might be the strongest.

    By the way, Luis, could you contact me via my email, please? I have would like to discuss something with you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve never cared about what others do or how they live their lives. If you want to utilize a supposed weakness then provided it’s okay with you– go-ahead. I have a saying that goes— If ever you reach a point in life when you could not give a flying monkey’s fart about how others see you, then that’s when you achieve freedom. It’s your life. Live it your way.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. People can be shitty. In this social media driven age of self-absorbedness and consumerism, the propensity for shittyness has reached dizzying heights.

    A consequence of genuinely helping others without wanting anything in return is happyness; i.e. the opposite behavior of that described in the post.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I don’t agree with the thesis in the conclusion. That the “strong” prey on the “weak”. In this kind of societal arrangement, you are as “strong” as those backing you. By ourselves, 99% percent of use, in the terms of marketing value, value very little. So, what you are referring to, is a process of “bandwagoning”. Many small players align with those who have power so their power grows as well. Your question is, as far as I can see, if we should join with those with a great marketing value to use their wealth to gain something for ourselves. Well, unless you are David Lynch or a similar persona this is the only method to gain something of greater value. Align with the powerful. And if one resists doing this, he may as well concede to be on the margins. If you are O.K. with that, I don’t see a problem.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Good morning from Texas, Louis. It is possible to make money from others without exploiting anyone. You do that by offering a quality product which makes their life better or provides them with a few moment’s pleasure. In other words provide some true value. My blog is a paid site because I’m not only a book author, but an indie. I have control issues. By and large I’m also anti-corporate. I haven’t monetized my blog yet, and I’m certainly not going to do so by accepting paid advertising. Why would I want to distract from promoting my own hard work, unless that entity wishing to use it is willing to reciprocate, by reading said book and telling others positive things about it? I’ll do it by utilizing Patreon instead, if I come up with a regular feature where I can offer something of value, other than the book I’m releasing soon. (Patreon has a WordPress plug-in)

    By the way, the post you helped to inspire is now live, if you have time to read it.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I guess it’s my upbringing, but swindling people for money wouldn’t occur to me. I use my blog to get the word out about myself for human interest. It may seem naive and stupid, but I reckon it doesn’t matter much what anyone else thinks of me. When morality and money are so interwoven for some people, IMO human beings have a real problem.


  8. I really appreciate this post. I’m 45 – I was born in 1975. At a young age I got into computers. I ran a free public BBS out of my bedroom in High School and College from 1987-1997. I think my first version of Telegard ran on a 286 with a 2400bps modem. I had extensive message boards, personal messaging, online games and file sections. At the busiest I had about 150 regular users – mostly local. In the days of copper wire long distance calling for a BBS was expensive. Eventually I connected to telnet and had a broader audience. It was free for everyone. My expenses were just a dedicated phone line, electricity and upgrades….

    Nobody used their real names. We used ‘handles’ or nicknames. You could be as public or anonymous as you wanted.
    Nobody tracked your messages – it was the computerized communication revolution before the internet.

    To get to my point, in those days I monitored my message boards which ranged from politics to D&D. I rarely had to delete a post and people had mostly civil debates without censorship. It was the pinnacle of free speech – in my lifetime. The technology started with the purest of goals – universal communication – connecting the world at the dawn if the digital age.

    In the 30 years since, I have seen that wondrous technology perverted by greed, con men, politicians and most of all the consumer industry. The collection, distribution and sale of personal data isn’t something I expected back in the days of floppy disks… I guess I was a naive young person enjoying unfiltered, completely anonymous communication, gaming and file sharing.

    What we now have as the ‘modern internet’ has become a massive data collection and exploitation tool. From ‘reward’ cards at the gas station to online sales to your ‘personal’ lives posted on social media – the corporations are watching you to find out how to make more money.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’ve bought into Patreon to follow my favorite people, I shop compulsively on eBay, and I use pay-to-play games. However I am very conscious about my internet presence and privacy. I still use tor and more recently VPNs to maintain a semblance of privacy – but it’s virtually impossible to be anonymous. From the moment you turn on your phone or computer you are updated, identified and tracked.

    So to your question, is it so awful to be a sell out? Why not take advantage of the suckers born every minute? Heck ya! If you can make money writing or posting what you love – go for it! Just keep in mind the personal privacy and censorship we have given up over the years to make a buck online and be mindful of the system going too far.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. No one should use another for personal gain. It’s just wrong and their’s no excuse for it. It’s called manipulation and it’s a destroyer of relationships and good common sense. Great post.


  10. I’m not very materialistic and buy only what I basically need. Love of family, a roof over my head, food on the table and hopefully my health stays with me. People are so preoccupied with getting “things” and forget what is truly important in life, take a walk see the beauty of nature and it’s free! 🌎✌🏻❤️🎄🥂 Happy Holidays!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. So long as what you advertise you also use / believe in then I don’t see any conflict. You are not forcing people to buy or use the advertised product. If they don’t want it then no matter how ‘influential’ you are they are not going to buy…


  12. It even happens here in the writing world. There are a number of poets preying on the unsuspecting just to feed their own narcissistic tendencies. I’ve witnessed it first hand. They play on people’s sympathy and when things fail to go their way, they behave like children. I avoid such people the second I recognize them. Most of us, however, read indiscriminately and follow the rats into their holes because we want out stats to explode. It’s pathetic behaviour but part of the human endeavour.


  13. There is a spelling mistake in your article. Being a PhD student, as I was once, you are very aware of detail.
    You said should the strong “pray” on the weak ?
    Did you mean to write “prey” ?
    I would never “prey” on anyone, but I pray much of the time.
    I will pray for you. 🤗

    Liked by 5 people

  14. It sounds to me like you are talking about asking a fair price for your work. That is not preying on anyone to do so. It is also not preying on people to do an endorsement for a product you actually think is good. I mean, maybe the headphones are the ones that person likes (I’ve never heard of either). Some times you need endorsements to get your work known. You have to decide where your personal line is. For example, if I was to finally get a book published, and Fox News asked me to come on their network for a touchy-feely segment, I’d tell them to shove it up…well, you know. People might say, “But you’ll be losing possible buyers of your book.” But I have to live with myself. Also, my kids would disown me and kick me out of the house. 😀


  15. +1

    In related news, I read about activists in the French city of Lille working to limit the impact of advertising. One of them is quoted as saying: “When you walk down the street, how can you feel happy if you’re constantly being reminded of what you don’t have? Advertising breaks your spirit, confuses you about what you really need and distracts you from real problems, like the climate emergency.”

    Thanks for highlighting this and for regularly sharing your thoughts. :^)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “When you walk down the street, how can you feel happy if you’re constantly being reminded of what you don’t have? Advertising breaks your spirit, confuses you about what you really need and distracts you from real problems, like the climate emergency.”

      That’s excellent!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Great post, Louis. You’re right, a lot of influencers (who came up with that?) are out there for the sole purpose of fleecing their followers. But, I think that the ones (bloggers, artists, musicians, authors, etc.) who don’t engage in that, are going to be around for the longhaul. They’re going to stand out in the sea of corporate greed. Hmm. I’ll stop there, or it could get a bit ranty.
    On a happier note, sending you wishes for a great holiday season, Louis!

    Liked by 4 people

  17. The trouble is that someone has convinced Ms. Eilish that marginal (to her, but substantial to others) additional income is worth pursuing. This is delusional. She’s a victim of the same untruth as the people that will buy X because she’s advertising it—somehow happiness will magically arise from economic transactions. It’s hard to criticise individuals, as we live within a huge social architecture of ideology and propaganda which is predicated on this basic misapprehension, but there is no greater prize to be won than spending your days making music (or doing whatever it is that makes you feel fulfilled). Ultimately, having a large surplus of income/cash is depriving someone else of the material benefits it could provide, which is the moral dimension to this question for me.


  18. It comes down to “Can you live with yourself?”. We all have different moral standards and if you’re okay by doing so then go right ahead. However, there also comes a time when you could be financially suffering and you really need money at the moment. I don’t believe there’s a clear cut answer to “Selling Out”. I think as long as you use whatever product you’re pushing then it’s totally okay and not selling out in my book. However, if you don’t use the product that you’re pushing then yes you’re a sell-out. However, the bigger question is is there anything wrong with being a sell-out?


  19. Interesting article..
    My thought off top of my head .
    Is.. Each person has to live with their own self. Deceit is wrong.
    Easy to prove..does any person on earth think it’s okay for another to deceive them.
    In reference to making a living by gaining from marketing or selling..it has to do with honesty of both parties, and the value of the purchased service or product to the buyer.
    Teaching our loved ones to be wary of and challenge the tricky is a key skill necessary to survive in a seeming endless supply of deceivers .


  20. A friend once told me – and I had a hard time understanding and agreeing with him – that all friends hurt. I now think when you forgive and forget is when you sell out bcos they basically do it again and again. I think we all sell out to family and friends, employers and employees than we care to admit because we want more than advertised prices of the good, on the service. To make this point compare USA and Africa: In the USA the strong pray for the weak, more or less bcos the weak in d USA are not leaving en-masse or in droves but the ones in Africa are stowing away to any part of the World even to their deaths. Sell out, I think we all do more than we care to admit just yo be a part of the friendship, family and community. It’s mild, a survival tactic that politician and bosses dangle in our faces, subtly. This is it: if a man approaches another man for a shag of course, he will be restrained if not kill him but we all know the government fucks us everyday.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Asshats have been around since mankind descended from the trees and began walking upright. And while their ranks may seem to have swollen, it’s more likely collateral damage from massively inflated egos. Joining that crowd isn’t entirely optional, especially if one has a conscience. I get the distinct feeling that you do. Decent people, by and large, tend to be happier people.


  22. Points to ponder for sure. As a writer, I have to sell my work in order to make a living. That, by necessity, involves a certain amount of marketing, particularly in an Internet-driven world. I hope to balance this by not writing anything or marketing in a way that is out of sync with my Christian faith. I’m quite sure I can’t please all the people all the time, but I do hope to please God. Blessings on your studies and on being a gentle person in this world. We need more of you. 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: