MLM: Fake It Till You Make It
I stumbled into some guy’s Facebook last year, who amongst other MLMs, pitches Herbalife. We’re talking the jacket with his name on it, full-on evangelist.
Aside from anything else, has anyone ever, walked up to someone wearing one of those cheap fleeces and asked for advice, based on what’s written on the back. I doubt it.
He’s got 5,000 “friends” on FB, and from what I can see, they’re mostly other MLMers who cheerlead the scripted crap he posts, wherein he desperately tries to convince he’s a) making money b) this stuff is good for you.
Except this dude doesn’t have a pot to piss in.
And in terms of healthy, he’s spent more than a decade as drug and alcohol abuser (i.e. all his adult life), lived on the street, and done prison time for theft.
He’s not a qualification to his name as he dropped out of school early on to pursue his love of heroin, and spent all of his formative years immersed in that world, meaning he never associated with anyone but other junkies and so missed out on the part of life where you grow and mature in a space of diverse ages, personalities and opinions.
And it shows.
Now, I’m not writing this to get at the dude because he’s pitching this shit and make fun of him: the guy’s got off the street, straightened himself out, got himself roof over his head, and a job.
All of that is commendable.
I’m writing this because he gets lauded for it by his FB friends & followers, and genuinely seems to believe he’s some kind of inspiration because of it?
Which is where I take issue.
I don’t grudge the guy getting a little attention and positive feedback, because that’s always nice in life – feeling “special” – but I just can help but view this kind of attention as more damaging than improving.
I say that as I view it as the “praise of low expectation.” There was a skit Chris Rock did years ago on how some guys in his community expect praise for what an ordinary man takes for granted:
“You ain’t supposed to go to jail, you low expectation, MF!”
No one else gets a round of applause for paying their bills on time and keeping a roof over their head: it’s what you’re supposed to do!
And this is the sort of feedback I see this dude getting. It feels a lot like condescension most of the time, like, “Oooh, look at you all dressed up” when he’s wearing a rent-a-tuxedo to go the Herbalife ball.
And I’m not even getting at the folks who’ve really turned their lives around, come up from the pit of despair, and made something of themselves and could justifiably smirk at my “achievements”.
I’m talking about a dude in his first council flat, not two years off the streets, in the sort of pad that the washing machine resides right next to the TV, posting selfies lighting cigars captioned “baller” and “like a G”!
I don’t find that funny, I just find it cringe-worthy and embarrassing.
And all the MLM-bots on his page leap in to congratulate him and gush on how great he is…
This is someone who’s really been seduced by the MLM fairy tale, and who having bought into it, seems to have embraced the “fake it till you make it” philosophy to the point of madness!
The guys bills himself as a “success” and seems to firmly believe he’s someone to look up to.
Which, if we’re going to be unkind (but realistic) is an aspiration of broke, dumb and narcissistic.
It’s just, if you’re going to hold yourself up as an example, then you really should take care to divorce yourself as far as possible from the charge of “loser” first in my opinion.
It’s difficult trying to explain what I’m objecting to without sounding like I’m trying to be deliberately cruel, but I’m irked on two fronts:
Firstly, the guy is being exploited. As one human to another, I’m glad he’s got himself straightened out and off the street and drugs. I can see how he’s looking and trying to better himself… and how he’s just a prime mark for a MLM.
Secondly, the guy genuinely believes the feedback of the MLM world and thinks his FB reflects the universe, and that he genuinely is an “inspiration.”
Which as above, I’ve got to ask, “for why?”
Because the guy’s not overly bright, it’s kind of hard to watch, as he seems to be playing the dancing monkey to the MLM carnival, but the hard reality is not one of the people telling him how much of an inspiration he is, would want to swap places with him.
Not unless they’re a homeless junky too. In which case, fair play, this is a guy who’s qualified to go around drug and rehab centres and give the spiel on his life and how he dug himself out of it. To be in a warm bed, with a full belly, no matter how humble the abode, is something to aspire to if you’re cold and hungry in a doorway.
But it’s not something to aspire to, if like the vast majority of society, that’s not your current situation in life.
And hopefully your current situation isn’t living in a little bedsit in your mid-thirties, trying to play catch-up to the rest of the world.
Because that’s the reality of this guy’s life… while he’s posing for pics and adding motivational quotes to them (unattributed like they’re his own words of wisdom).
And what little money he does have, is being consumed by those MLM vampires. I’ve identified at least three he’s pushing, one of which is a woman’s cosmetic range I’ve also covered here.
I just can’t help but feel, man, save your money! And I’m betting he’s covering a lot of this via credit, because it’s an “investment” and he’s gonna make it all back…
Which I’m sure he’s been told and assured. You just gotta wonder what sort of people these MLMers are? They’re worse than drug pushers.
And as for what sort of people… one of his heroes is a reformed thug, now selling a version of his life story instead of drugs or stolen goods, who frankly, still smacks of the conman who’d do and say anything to get you to empty your wallet into his grasping hands.
Again, I’m not sure what the example is to be learned for the rest of us, who’ve never been to prison or criminals.
And not even successful criminals at that, but low-level petty thieves not averse to a bit of thuggery/violence where the victim was weak enough for them to apply it.
So I really feel… take your “inspirational” shit elsewhere.
I don’t know about anyone else, but unless you’re demonstrably more successful than me in whatever field you’re offering to coach me in, then I’m not interested: just what have you got to tell me that I don’t already know?
I know enough to shut up and listen when the real deal shows up and speaks, but I’m not partaking of anyone else’s little fantasy if it means I’ve got to give them £££ to fuel it.
The dude I’m thinking of here is barely literate! He can’t post a dozen words without making it a tortuous litany of spelling and schoolboy grammatical errors.
And again, I’m not saying that to be cruel, but just pointing out how ridiculous it is to present yourself as a coach, imparting health & nutrition advice, when you can’t even spell what it is you’re trying to sell.
I just shake my head… the guy hasn’t even passed a driving test (money was for injecting while we were all doing that) yet feels qualified to play the life coach & success story? I don’t nip through to the first class carriage on a train to take my pic there, and nip out again before the guard throws me out. That’s not “living like a G” is it? But it is faking it.
And the gallery of MLM “friends” all applaud and cheer this clown show on.
The thing is, I get that the guy, for the first time in his life, doesn’t feel like a loser. That he enjoys the accolades and that’s why he creates endless new FB groups, with himself as starring role, so he can get more of it…
But it’s all a sham.
Maybe the guy doesn’t want to hear it, but he’d be better off trying to get himself some qualifications to get on a bit in life. Get his writing (and presumably) reading up to adolescent level at least. Get himself a trade in something. That’d advance him. Not putting on face masks and recording it for Facebook, or pissing his money away on “photo shoots” aping the motivational memes he sees genuinely successful people fronting.
That’s where this whole thing goes from tragedy to farce.
Not that this guy is alone, as a lot of people (some very intelligent people) get caught up in the image and merrily dig themselves a hole of debt they’ll never get out of, in order to play to the gallery on social media.
It’s seductive. Who doesn’t like adulation and respect?
Except this sort of recognition is akin to buying the trophies yourself instead of earning them the hard way i.e. the right way.
At that point, you’re no longer just “faking it”, you’re conning it, and conning yourself most of all as the debt you’re incurring pretty much guarantees you’ll never make it.
Just don’t even go down this path. It’s like the drug addict, and to get back to our friend who inspired this post, it’s just as damaging.
Also, don’t believe the hype. Some folks, some small, tiny percentage of folks are making money off MLMs, but the odds are well and truly against you. The vast majority are making nothing and lying through their teeth about it.
MLMs advise they lie through their teeth about.
Ballers don’t chase “likes” on plagiarised inspirational quotes to buoy up a fictionalised life they don’t live.
Me, I make some money off this site and my adult one. Not buying a yacht with the proceeds but enough to see it in my bank account.
But then I enjoy writing, and don’t find it a struggle… but then I also haven’t scrambled my brains on booze and drugs for the better part of fifteen years, either.
Which is maybe why I’m not part of an MLM.
Might be something that works for you too.
Recommended further reading:
A classic from an author not faking it, and most definitely not selling an MLM:
Crack the Code to Wealth and Live Rich for a Lifetime!
by M. J. DeMarco