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Getting Personal

By Christie Rasmussen

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The quotes above are pulled from Facebook posts on my newsfeed. They are all posts from various high school and college friends who have seized the golden opportunity to use social media as an audience for their business. And I get it – not everyone can (or even wants to) work in an office. It’s simply not viable for every individual, and being able to work from home on your own time table can be an answer to prayer. Also, sales through social channels is hardly new. Tupperware parties capitalized on social networks long before the creators of Facebook and Instagram were even born.

All that aside, the posts irk me. They play off my insecurities (some of which I’ve covered before) and remind me of the false narrative I’m supposed to be aspiring to: Unrealistically long eyelashes! Toned tummies! Luscious lip colors! I get the messages from major brands through the regular channels of radio, print, and video ads. Heck, I’ve worked in advertising and am intimately acquainted with the production and placement of such spots. My hands aren’t clean. But for some reason, the posts from my friends are, well, personal.

That’s the point, of course. You trust the advice of your peers over a nameless corporation. Hearing a recommendation about a weight-loss plan from your best friend gets more weight than an ad in the sidebar of a website you’re scrolling through. As much as the recommendation gets more heft, the pain hits a bit closer to home as well. I can chalk up major marketing campaigns to “the media” hitting on my insecurities to make profit. I find it harder to shrug off the calls from those in my social media feed. Amber tells me I need to “enhance my natural beauty,” and I wonder why I’m not beautiful enough without the product. Lynn says I can “tone, tighten, and firm in as little as 45 minutes” and I second-guess whether I’m not toned enough, whether it really is what I should be worried about. I thought we were all in this together — we all hear about these beauty standards but we reject them together and agree that they’re unattainable. We know that bodies come in all shapes and sizes and that weight and complexion are not indicative of health or happiness. The multi-level marketing posts seem to break the bond I thought united us. They suggest that my friends really have bought into the standard and that I should be buying in as well. Or at least reconsidering.

I’m educated, but I’m still insecure. I know I can unfollow these friends, hide their posts, or even delete them from my profile. I don’t want to lose the friendships, though. Some I still stay in contact with outside of the MLM posts. I still want to see how Amber’s kids are doing and whether Lynn wants to meet up for a doughnut when I’m in her area. And as much as I would like to ban the practice entirely, I know how tight money can be and how those meager sales could be helping their families. This Vox.com article from a month ago was insightful and helped me think of the practice with more understanding and empathy.

So I try to take the “ignore it” route. I try to keep scrolling and, when I’m really strong, just avoid social media entirely for a time. I count myself lucky that I’m not in an area where the Relief Society directory is used as a potential sales roster and where the worst of the threat is a somewhat annoying post and me checking out the dark circles under my eyes a bit too long in the mirror before bed.

At the risk of opening up a can of worms, I wonder about others’ experiences. Am I hyper-sensitive to body insecurity that a friend’s MLM post makes me rethink whether I should be happy in my own skin? Is it best to just block the person entirely, even if it means not seeing their other life updates? Has anyone had really positive experiences with these kind of sales techniques?

About Christie Rasmussen

(Publicity and Blog Team)

2 thoughts on “Getting Personal”

  1. Ugh. I hate hate hate everything about MLMs. The one and only one I actually support is Mary Kay and that's because I like their makeup, and it's super easy to order online whenever I need something new. My salesperson is totally un-pushy, I receive an occasion email and brochure in the mail. I've never ever felt pressured to have an in-home party or anything of the kind. I will be loyal to her forever! 🙂

    Other than that, I really can't think of anything good coming out of many of these schemes. Yes, that's what I'm convinced they are, schemes. Have you read the statistics on how many people actually make decent money off all these supposedly "life changing" products? I don't have a link or anything, but I'm sure a quick google search could tell you, it's not many. Also, it's one thing if many of the products were adding value to the world. But false eye lashes and tummy wraps that feed into that false narrative of not being good enough that you mentioned? Nope.

    I've probably offended a bunch of people, sorry! Not my intent, but this is, for whatever reason a bit of a hot button topic for me. Also, I'm not on Facebook, but I imagine if I were I would have to block anyone using the majority of their posts to advertise an MLM. It drives me that crazy.

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  2. Most of the people on my feed sell candles or essential oils. It is easy to ignore both. I also have one friend who sells body products, but she advertises with short, humorous videos. In fact, if I have money to splurge and need a sugar scrub I may buy something just because I and my kids enjoy her advertising.

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