This article was written by Megan Louise. Click here to follow her incredible blog, which features all the research the spoken-word artist has done into MLM.
Feeling frustrated having not anything productive all year? Feeling guilty?
You could always search for a relatable quote on the internet. This might cheer you up or make you motivated … but that is only until tomorrow when you’re just as irritated.
To give you the full picture: when the pandemic started, I was a recent graduate. Coming out of a space where I worked roughly nineteen hours a day, in a race with myself to tick off boxes on my to do list. Currently, I am laying on a mountain of blankets; it’s 4.25pm and I only got up an hour or so ago.
You might be under the impression that I’ve been unproductive with my time, but I’ve completed three box sets. I’m doing fine. I still write, but I’ve been taking care when listening to my body’s needs. If I need sleep, I sleep. Simple.
While I am learning to slow down, it appears the rest of the world is speeding up. Boss babe influencers have been popping up like little moles I want to whack, from my self-care corners of the internet, demanding that I take their opportunity because … I can do anything if I put my mind to it.
These preachers are part of Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) companies. An MLM is a business model which, like most corporate jobs, involves a ladder with various ranks designed for you to work your way up. MLM reps often make false income claims. How the sky is the limit. If you work hard, you can earn hard. MLM’s have two potential income streams. The first is your typical way through direct sales of a product. A seller and a buyer. Nothing harmful. But your second is more sinister: recruiting.
You might have been added to a Facebook group or spammed with messages from someone about their latest business ventures that they think you’d be great at. This is nothing more than a recruiting ploy. When they ‘hire’ you, you become their downline and with every downline, there’s a sweet paycheque for them. Often in MLM companies, every sale made, the upline makes a cut, meaning they’re making money on the back of other people.
Lillian Lalo explains how MLM reps tend to use tactics such as toxic positivity to recruit their downlines. Reps are trained to set up pages or groups, adding everyone and anyone, where they fill the groups with positive quotes of affirmation. You can do this. You’ve got this. You can reach the top of the MLM ladder. A sense of community in global grief is inspiring … but a shade is a shade. When your intentions are to recruit people into your business, perhaps you aren’t the positive inspiration you think you are- think more capitalist, power, and money hungry. Whenever they’re criticised, they’re quick to call it hate. Lilian calls this a thought stopping technique which prevents them from seeing it from any other angle and allows them to bathe in their only complicity.
But we are also neglecting the painful irony in bombarding only positive quotes during this universally painful time. Toxic positivity in the current climate leads many to further suppress the necessary collective healing progress. The burnout. The … shit.
After all, you can dress a shit up, but a shit is still a shit. 2020 was shit. Sometimes we feel shit. Today was shit. It is important for us to feel our negative emotions too. By not acknowledging them, we bottle them up which can result in a larger explosion later.
I can imagine you’re thinking I’m being too cynical; after all, is there really any harm in setting up a group to send positive messages? Even if the intentions are purely self-serving to grow your own downline? Well, what if I told you that statistics, found through a study featured on the official Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website (Taylor, 2011), show that 99% of all reps will lose money in MLM’s? No amount of positive quotes is changing that fact … But it sure as hell is keeping people in their MLM, working on overdrive to reach the ultimate dream of financial freedom. Even through a global pandemic. Even when our loved ones are dying. Even when our bodies are asking, no – demanding for rest. Even when we aren’t making the money, our supportive team is telling us that we’ve got this, that we can do this. Why would anyone want to question that? Why would anyone want to give up? Perhaps because a study by Jon Taylor (Taylor, 2011) shows that there is more chance of making money through gambling. Listen, at the end of the day, positivity is great but only if there’s room for the negative critic too.
Statistics suggest many MLM companies have seen a surge in new reps during this pandemic, this boils down to nothing more than immoral reps exploiting capitalism, the constant need to be productive and the unfortunate high levels of unemployment.
If you’re interested to learn more about MLM’s, look forward to my future works regarding this subject. When (and only when) my body feels ready, it’ll be in your hands.
There is an on-going petition occurring in the UK asking for the Government to enforce better regulations and transparency in MLM Companies. I’d be thankful if you could spend a minute or two signing it: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/581482?fbclid=IwAR1d5dVGgLNMvbHH1xX3CqHaUfqSTfD5WXajQ2DsNbZK5DdoJaJnaASVHIc
Report spams/immoral reps to the FTC: https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/
- Federal Trade Commission. (2019) Multi-Level Marketing Businesses and Pyramid Schemes. [Online] Available from: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0065-multi-level-marketing-businesses-and-pyramid-schemes#Is_an_MLM_Right_for_You?
- Federal Trade Commission. (2020) FTC sends COVID-related warnings to MLM companies. [Online] Available from: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2020/04/ftc-sends-covid-related-warnings-mlm-companies
- SAVY Writes Books. (2020) Toxic Positivity vs. the Anti-Mlm Movement – featuring Lillian Lao. [Online] Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ILUFqIwPM0&list=PLi5oXGIbKYxjVC8I_ZJDgbvqymAEANpwu&index=10
- Taylor, Jon., M. (2011) MLM Profit and loss rates vs. various income options. [Online] Consumer Awareness Institute. Available from: https://www.ftc.gov/sites/default/files/documents/public_comments/trade-regulation-rule-disclosure-requirements-and-prohibitions-concerning-business-opportunities-ftc.r511993-00004%C2%A0/00004-57286.pdf
- Taylor, Jon., M. (2011) The Case (For and) against Multi-level Marketing. [Online] Consumer Awareness Institute. Available from: https://www.ftc.gov/sites/default/files/documents/public_comments/trade-regulation-rule-disclosure-requirements-and-prohibitions-concerning-business-opportunities-ftc.r511993-00008%C2%A0/00008-57281.pdf