Friday, November 29, 2013

Different lenses – Volume 1: Selling Out

The concept of selling out is an idealized version of what it means to go against your spirit, appease the powers that be and make decisions focused on gain rather than impact and satisfaction. That’s one possible definition except that selling out varies from situation to situation even more so than love. By this I mean, that it’s a malleable term that is used to refer to various things.

In music, artists who create music to please the masses are sellouts, especially if they go against their artistic integrity in the process. Metallica comes to mind when they cut their hair and released Loaded, which I actually enjoyed. Saliva also comes to mind since I remember an interview where a woman actually asked them point blank why they sold out and there are many other examples to choose from.

In movies, there is more of the same, as in books. In the end, the act of selling out is going against your inner compass and doing something in search of less than noble results and more than positive sales. Now some people might have an issue with this and I’m sometimes on that band wagon. If you see my heroes, they’ve always done whatever the hell they wanted. Pearl Jam, Mike Stewart, Bill Hicks, Jack Johnson, JK Rowling all come to mind. As a band, Pearl Jam plays what they want, where they want and play every show as if they’ll die the next day unlike other artists who just punch the clock, I could name a couple here. Mike Stewart is 50, still rips on a bodyboard and has always maintained his stance that he bodyboards because it is the most functional way to ride the waves he loves (Sidenote, he is one of the best bodysurfers in the world and will bodysurf waves people wouldn’t take off on a board). Bill Hicks was from the Lenny Bruce School of ideology of sticking to your beliefs and going for broke no matter how much resistance and censorship you faced. Jack Johnson does things his way and can’t be a nicer guy and JK Rowling insisted on her vision until she shared her magic with the world.

Recently, I read a different type of selling out courtesy of an article by Franchesca Guzman which really got me thinking on the whole concept of selling out in society.

She states that education as is sold nowadays is a means to an end that promotes bigotry, arrogance, a sense of entitlement and is also selling out. You studied X or Y profession to get paid, not because you love it. You work in X or Y company, because you want money, not because you believe in what that company does and even if that goes against your vision. This brings forth various types of selling out which I often mention in the checklists of life (something I’ll elaborate further in another blog). She also asked for an opinion on this because of some points she makes so here’s my take.

Studying something for a profession can be interpreted as selling out, true. It doesn’t make you a bad person, it just means you are possibly lining yourself up for some misery. For my part, I started studying Psychology and switched majors to Advertising and Marketing. I really didn’t know what I wanted to be for the longest of time and for a long while, I insisted on being a creative in advertising because I thought it was what I wanted. I also needed to find a job to get money to help out at home and at one time, pay for most of the bills. These are the types of justifications many of us give for not pursuing a dream, and although noble to a point, it still means I sold out, even if I perceived I didn’t have a choice.

For her part, Franchesca was self employed and an entrepreneur for 8 years before she had to go back to study. She feels as if this was selling out because she graduated, got a certificate and got a job that wouldn’t impact her life. She jumped the hoops, got the paper, got the title, got the job and everyone was appeased she put on the sheep suit for a change.

Part of what she writes feels as if she thinks this is what she did. The thing is that I don’t think she sold out. True, she made have made decisions and jumped through hoops to conform, appease and be part of the system, the motivation is what makes it not selling out. She had a need, she adapted, she survived. Some people might want to make a case that Metallica was also surviving… that’s cute, it’s not the same so please don’t paint it out to be. She is also clear that she’s doing this temporarily because although it’s a means to an end, it is not what she wants. Again, this was done in a form of survival.

The threat in her scenario is conformity and THAT’S the danger of selling out. If you do something to make money exclusively, eventually it won’t be enough, people will notice and you’ll be dead in the water. I know what I want to do, but for need to maintain comfort, a lifestyle and to be able to provide, I endure a dayjob… Still, that doesn’t mean I’m not taking steps towards pursuing my passion. EVERY day I take steps towards that, including this post. Because this is what drives me, this is what makes me who I am and this is my future in whatever way I choose to do. Writing is part of me and as long as I’m writing, I am happy. I have reviews on Amazon and Trip Advisor, I make music and movie reviews for fun and I love to write objectively to recommend things. It’s another part of me and if I have to endure a crap job to be able to do this, so be it, as long as it is always clear what defines me.

I am not defined by my job title, my professional degree, my salary or the company I work for… I am defined by me and know exactly where I start, where I end and where I’m compromising… and every day there’s a step taken to sacrifice a little less to live a little more.

There are many more things to be said about what she talks about. Other posts for another day. Now for the topic at hand, selling out? I disagree with her. I’ve seen people be arrogant with their path to the point of taking down their loved ones for the sake of a vision… that is not being true to who you are, that’s being selfish and not knowing how to adapt and survive.

So here’s to surviving.

Peace, love and maki rolls,


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