ezekiel's chariot - 張敦楷 (pjammer) wrote,
ezekiel's chariot - 張敦楷

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Defense Against the Darke Artes [MLM]

Recent events brought the subject of MLMs back to the forefront of my thoughts - two otherwise-intelligent friends have been recruited (and been trying to hustle me) into their "new business," and I am again aghast at how powerful memes can override the critical facilities of thinking adults.

From time to time, someone in my social circle is suckered into a MLM (Multi-Level Marketing) organization. Inevitably, they see dollar signs in my significant rolodex, and approach me to discuss a "business opportunity" (always in those vague terms). The product varies through the years (water-purifiers and detergents ten years ago, to 'natural' vitamins and goji juice in recent years) - the pitch remains the same: it's a Brand New Thing and you have been specially chosen to get in on the "Ground Floor" of a business that can earn you residual income in the tens of thousands a month for just a few hours of work.

Too, there's always a story of a friend-of-a-friend who claims to have made serious income from whatever scheme is in play for the day - the 1% of 'distributors' who managed to sucker enough hopeful millionaires-in-waiting to their downline as proof that this is a legitimate opportunity. (For every person who actually earns a solid income from their MLM downline, there's probably dozens of low-rent pretenders lying about being that guy).

Like all effective cults, MLMs build an 'us-against-them' culture to hijack the social capital of its inductees - friends of the newly-recruited are suddenly potential customers or enemies; you as their friend are either 'supportive' (by signing up in their downline) or a 'dream-stealer' (try to talk them out of it by pointing out its inherently deceptive business model).

Which means that once a friend or family member is a few weeks into a program, deprogramming them from MLM propaganda will be a painful process - you can either just blow off their weekly invitations to "opportunity seminars" and hope they eventually give up, or proactively try to stop them before they spend themselves into bankruptcy. So here's a question: What do you do when your friend or family member is sucked into a destructive organization?

What's your experience with MLMs?

A what?
Heard of MLMs, never been recruited.
Been approached/recruited, never signed up.
Former participant.
It's the wave of the future, man! Listen, those other MLMs are scams but I've got this amazing no-risk opportunity I need to show you ...

Have you lost a friend/family member to an MLM?

I have no friends.

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