Lori Falce: How multilevel marketing ‘parties’ have destroyed real parties

I have 839 Facebook friends and a disproportionate number of them are women.

Some are my mom’s age — friends from places I worked 20 years ago or retired teachers from high school. Some are my contemporaries like classmates or fellow baking enthusiasts or girls from my moms’ group. There are even younger ones whom I have collected along the way from my son’s extracurriculars or students I have mentored.

But having 600 or so women of various ages in my social media circle means that I am a frequent target for “parties.”

Now, I love a good party. Birthdays, anniversaries, just a backyard barbecue. But on Facebook, what you are invited to are less celebrations than they are hostage situations where you are lured in by obligations of family and friendship and held captive by multilevel-marketing schemes.

LuLaRoe, the clothing company now the subject of Amazon’s “LuLaRich” series, is just one of those I’ve been enticed to engage. There’s also been Paparazzi, Tastefully Simple, Pampered Chef, Partylite and so many more. It’s gotten so that an invitation in my Facebook mailbox can seem like a threat.

I know that most of the people who send me the invitations are caught in a web, too. They don’t want to be having this party. They just wanted to help out their friend who needed one person to have a party so she could get the incentive for having a party she didn’t want to have either. It’s a vicious cycle of burden that I understand because I am presently on the hook to have a Pampered Chef party because I attended a virtual gathering for my sister.

But what is more alarming than the resigned, passing victims like me are the enthusiastic participants who seem to be all-in on their oils or shakes or nail stickers and the mythology that comes along for the ride. I feel bad for the young moms buying the idea of an at-home job with a five-figure monthly income. I am confused by those that aren’t in that position and should know better.

Friends who would never reply to a Nigerian prince email or give Target gift card numbers to an alleged IRS agent on the phone have no problem with the structure of a company that is so obviously a pyramid scheme, the corporate headquarters should look like an Egyptian tomb. It makes one wonder: if they are smart enough to know, do they just not care?

Do they believe, like a veteran gambler, that they can be the one to walk away a winner and not the poor sucker who loses it all to the house? Unlikely, as the Federal Trade Commission reports that 99% of those who participate in a multilevel-marketing business lose — and sometimes lose big, destroying credit and prompting bankruptcy.

There is another kind of loss, though. The loss of those real parties with real friends where the meat of the meeting is talking and laughing and having fun, rather than feigning excitement for an overpriced product that whispers lies about entrepreneurship and financial freedom.

Lori Falce is a Tribune-Review community engagement editor. You can contact Lori at [email protected].


Simonne Stigall

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