Is “selling out” even a thing anymore?

Selling out” means compromising your art or integrity for personal gain. Sometimes that involves paid product placement. (Wikipedia) I’m used to it being considered a bad (or at least controversial) thing.

Generation Like

You can watch “Generation Like” (an episode of Frontline) on the PBS website.

I watched Generation Like on the PBS website this week. It takes a look at how “liking” things and being “liked” online is defining people (especially young people). It also looks at how some marketers are using social media to get teenagers to promote products to each other.

For me, one of the most surprising things in the video was the argument that many young people don’t even know what “selling out” means.

The documentary follows a couple of popular video bloggers. Both started getting products or sponsorship from companies after they built up a big fan base. The bloggers incorporate the products into their posts and the brand gets exposed to their (many) followers.

As long as the bloggers disclose that they’ve been given the products, you could argue that there’s nothing wrong with this arrangement. But people might think the bloggers are selling out (especially if they were following the blog before it was “internet famous”).

The surprising part was that Generation Like claims that many young people don’t use the term “selling out” and don’t know what it means. They even ask some teenagers to see if they can define it.

The whole show is interesting, but to see the section I’m talking about go to about 43:30 in the video.

To be fair, I used Wikipedia at the top of this post to make sure I had a good idea of what “selling out” really means. But still.

Has the term just gone out of style, or do teenagers look at sponsorship situations like this differently?

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