Here is the final article by Ariel, who was embroiled in the MLM Financial Education Services (FES). Read Part 1 and Part 2 to get a background about this group, and hear about Ariel’s experience with them.
Looking at the Big Picture
Sometimes in life it can feel like you’re tangled in a web of lies and deception, because in business and in selling (even selling yourself at a job interview), you have to embellish some things, and those embellishments can snowball into outright deceit. It becomes very hard to untangle yourself from these webs, yet some people who have the will can do it, and sometimes it means being vulnerable and opening yourself up. The unfortunate thing is that FES is right — this information about finances and dealing with money isn’t taught in school, but coaxing people into an MLM is not the appropriate response for it. I’m sure that my upline had some good intentions when he recruited me — he really wanted to help me out with my life. Yet he didn’t see the fatal flaws of an MLM where the chain can’t last forever, and the market will eventually be saturated no matter what, and you’ll just end up with people who owe money.
I like being authentic and expressing myself, and it just seemed like with this MLM, I was doing the opposite of that and it was making me sick. When I was in my upline Stanley’s car, I had a conversation with him about how university doesn’t really give you any guidance in life, and he also talked about how he ended up broke because he didn’t really have that much help in his life either. We spoke about how the education system is messed up and needs reform. I don’t think that anyone wakes up in the morning as a psychopath thinking how they can make a person’s life miserable — they just don’t see flaws in predatory viral systems like MLMs.
Whose fault is this? Well, there is plenty of blame to go around. I wanted to join because I really thought that this was going to help people. I honestly thought that after I joined, I would be changing people’s lives for the better. The people who were customers and agents would have no problem having a better credit score, and making some money.
Another thing that you can’t do is blame some of the people in these MLMs, thinking that they are just terrible people, because things aren’t black and white. I have an Associate of Arts (AA) degree, I have a Bachelor of Arts (BA), and I have six months’ vocational experience in 3D printing. I was giving it my all to find a job that I was going to be passionate about. In these hard economic times, it felt impossible, even with all my experience and education, to find people who were going to give me a chance to do something. I was very frustrated that someone can go through so much and gain skills and try so hard, and just be left out of a career because they are looking for experience, and no-one is willing to provide any. The solution can come by actually being a community and caring about what people are going through. Not shutting people off and leaving them on the sidelines — because that’s when a predatory MLM can come and pick them up, making them think they found salvation, but all that is happening is they are slowly losing their money and sanity.
Speaking of losing money and sanity, I’d like to say that the MLM is like a leech — while sucking your life blood, it also numbs you. First they do love bombing (numbness), then they co-opt your time and your money (leeching). It’s like a black hole. It sucks you in and then you want to suck other people in. The thing is that money makes people emotional — think about how hard people work for money, and when they lose it in gambling, they want to gamble more and more until they get it back. That’s the way I kept feeling. When you’re in a black hole there is something called an event horizon and usually something that goes past the event horizon can’t come out. It takes tons of energy to get past that event horizon. So now I hope you understand when you look at the big picture, there are reasons why people join these things and they may be righteous reasons but, in the end, there is too much lying, bullying, and manipulation.
The Good the Bad and The Ugly
The good news is there are communities like this to fight back against this MLM cancer that has been growing in our society. Even better than that is that you can personally fight back. I felt like I was duped, so I put a complaint on the BBB website. At first it didn’t go through, since it was seen as an employee and employer dispute. Then I went another route, and complained about how I thought I was duped, because I was told that my credit karma score wasn’t my real score, and I really didn’t need the FES services.
That complaint went through, and I was refunded all my money, so that really brightened up my day to know that something can be done.
It’s also great that we can fight back against the MLM narrative that “people just didn’t work hard enough”, because that hard work is really just duping people into gambling their hard-earned money away for a chance at getting rich. Also, it’s a blessing in disguise that everyone I pitched to ended up rejecting me, because I would only further entangle them into a web of these dark emotions.
The bad news is that the experience takes more than just your money. It takes away your peace of mind, and tries to mould you into a new identity. Even my upline Stanley was talking to me about how he curses at his upline (the pushy sales director Brian who eventually got me to quit) and has these arguments with him. Stanley even told me that the events were too expensive to go to, and I should focus my energies elsewhere — so you get mixed signals and messages, and then you start getting frustrated and think you are a bad businessman. I also think that Stanley is a decent person who truly had my best interests at heart, but he didn’t know that eventually a lot of people are going to get hurt in this faulty business model, no matter how good your intentions are. So your peace of mind is messed with when you have these good intentions, and see things are constantly getting worse around you, and you have to hide it under a façade. The identity part is a bit ironic, because FES have a service where they protect your financial identity, but they want to give you another identity, that of a pushy salesman who uses deceptive and shady tactics to lure people into something.
Now the ugly part comes in because bullying and manipulation can sometimes be a part of everyday life, and you can cope with that — but what is very hard to cope is our relationships based solely on money. These people try to pull you so deep into a rabbit hole that you can’t get out. In fact, once you’ve invested, and if they’ve managed to convince you to quit a job and take days off from work, that’s when an “us vs. them”mentality will form.
When they’ve made their personal brand of MLM into a religion for you then that’s whenever somebody insults it or questions, it they’ve basically insulted and questioned your entire existence and purpose in life, so you start full on attacking that other person. What is also ugly is the veil of legality that they like to hide behind. It’s perfectly legal to go online or offline, use your freedom of speech, and tell someone that they are the dumbest, ugliest, and most ignorant idiot on the face of the planet, and that would put someone who is struggling over some edge, but that legality doesn’t make it ethical.
Even things that are legal like using your freedom of speech to say whatever you want whenever you want to has consequences social and ethical consequences,as we see when media personalities get fired for what they say — they are not arrested,though.
What is also dangerous is when people who are truly desperate, like the struggling unemployed, really want an opportunity and want to do something satisfying and get paid and an “opportunity” like this comes along where they are putting their money into a “legal” gambling machine. Our society turns a blind eye to so many injustices in my opinion because, if people in the legal, financial, and educational sectors are involved in stuff like this, then that basically gives these MLMs some kind of seal of approval. Even though you’re not aware of the tangled web of frustration, lies, and manipulation that you’re weaving for your friends, family, and acquaintances once you get involved with one of these things, because your intentions are the opposite.
Anyway it’s been a pleasure to share my ideas and experiences on MLMs. I hope it helps you. You can find me online at my blog, and on YouTube.
Cover photo by Ibrahim Boran on Unsplash
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