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MLM Cult Tactics You Should Know

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It might seem a little hyperbolic to say that MLMs (multi-level marketing schemes) are cults. It’s not. MLM cult tactics are very real and very dangerous. 

Much of our collective understanding of what makes a cult is based on what we’ve seen in the news. Mass suicides, violent stand-offs with law enforcement, and jumping on Oprah’s couch can all be traced back to those wacky, scary cults. 

MLMs just sell make-up, diet shakes, or leggings. How are they anything like those scary, wacky cults? 

MLMs, while they may not shave their heads and commit mass suicide, rely on tactics that are nearly identical to those very same cults. Here are some MLM cult tactics you really should know. 

They Prey On Vulnerable People

You are at your highest risk of being recruited into a cult or MLM if you’re in a vulnerable state. These states can be financial pressure, a dead-end job, loneliness, and others. It’s when you’re feeling low and desperate for help that attracts these organizations like blood in the water. 

A cult or an MLM will approach you with a solution to your problem, and they’ll do it with a smile. 

While a cult targets spirituality, MLMs target finance and work. They will lure vulnerable people in with a seemingly safe, welcoming, and exciting environment. This is what you’ve been looking for, they’ll say. 

They Promise Secrets To Success

Every MLM and cult member is told: “all you have to do is A, B, and C and you’ll be successful.” For cults, it’s enlightenment or freedom. For MLMs, it’s financial independence or self-reliance. These organizations make these grand promises if you follow everything you’re told. 

If you aren’t seeing success, well, I guess you just have “a lack of faith,” “negative mindset,” or “you didn’t work hard enough.” 

Charismatic “Guru” Leaders Are Infallible

The leader can do no wrong. They are geniuses and they are sharing their wisdom with you. Their words are repeated, memorized, and cherished. Any challenge to them would be unthinkable. They are to be protected and lionized.

The most notable example would be NXIVM’s Keith Raniere. A former Amway executive, Raniere turned his self-help MLM into a literal cult and then a cult within a cult. But that’s an entirely different, far more disturbing story. 

They Tell You To ‘Reject The Haters’

One MLM cult tactic that is disturbingly transparent would be their insistence of purging anyone who doesn’t buy into the message. 

Cults tell you that the group is your family and friends and that your actual family and friends are hurting you. MLMs call them “negative people” or “haters” that are “standing in the way of your success. 

This is how these organizations control the information you take in. If they can limit as much of the “outside world” as they can, the easier their indoctrination can take hold. 

Shady Structures Keep Members Hooked

There need to be incentives to keep people in line. MLMs often promise confusing and repetitive promotional structures. This keeps followers believing and always moving up the never-ending “ladder of success.” 

Amway, for example, has “pin levels” like Silver, Gold, Ruby, Pearl, Sapphire, Emerald, Diamond, Executive Diamond, and so on. ItWorks uses Double Diamond, Triple Diamond, Presidential Diamond. NXIVM had different colored sashes. Having a tangible reward works wonders as an incentive. 

Whenever the pyramid shape begins to reveal itself (and it will), MLMs use the straw man argument that “all corporations have a pyramid shape too.” 

Sure, Jan. Except those employees are promoted based on performance, not how many units they sell. 

Fear Tactics Are Standard

MLMs and cults will use passive-aggressive techniques to shame, slander, and discredit members who speak up or try to leave. They will threaten to take everything away from you. They exploit Dr. Karl Albrecht’s 5 Basic Fears and often with success. 

You’re either with them or against them. And they mean it. 

It Takes Over Your Life

MLM members are intensely pressured to speak about their company and experience in order to convert others to join. They will incessantly promote or mention their MLM in every conversation. They’ll use MLM products and discuss them with you ad nauseam. 

You will live and breathe the MLM, much like you would in a cult. Your entire world is the MLM and you must share it with the world. 

LuLaRoe demanded control of their members’ social media, weight, marriages, and more. If anything positive happened in your life, it was #BecauseOfLuLaRoe.

They Demand Absolute Devotion

There’s no room in an MLM for dissent. They will tell you that absolute devotion is the key to success. Even when confronted with facts, a true believer will reject them. They may even dig deeper. 

The FLDS, the infamous polygamist cult led by Warren Jeffs, instructed its followers to “keep sweet.” This meant to “demonstrate loyalty and absolute obedience to someone, even if it means unspeakable harm.” 

The MLM Cult Tactics Are Very Real

MLMs need to use cult tactics in order to sustain themselves. This is ironic considering that MLMs are inherently unsustainable. In order to blind members from the scam, MLMs have to radicalize them. Cult tactics are tried and true. 

Humans are predictable sheep. Predators take advantage of that. MLMs and cults are predatory organizations that harm the most vulnerable among us. 

Take note of these MLM cult tactics and protect yourself from these incredibly harmful organizations.

Chris Blondell is a Philadelphia-based writer and social media strategist with a current focus on tech industry news. He has written about startups and entrepreneurs based in Denver, Seattle, Chicago, New Haven, and more. He has also written content for a true-crime blog, Sword and Scale, and developed social media content for a local spice shop. An occasional comedian, Chris Blondell also spends his time writing humorous content and performing stand-up for local audiences.

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Lifestyle

It’s Okay To Embrace Garbage Trends … I Guess

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Remember a year ago when sea shanties were a thing? No? Neither do we. But it was totally a thing. The flash-in-the-pain trend that was sea shanties is what is now known as a “garbage trend.” And it wasn’t the only one. 

Garbage trends … are kind of like fast fashion.”

The term “garbage trends” comes from Vox journalist Rebecca Jennings

They sort of come out of nowhere, they seem very of the moment, everyone showers them with attention and, in some respects, money and time and meaning and then the next week they’re in … the figurative landfill of ideas.” 

There Is Nothing New About This

One can watch a video of Josephine Baker dancing to the Charleston fad of the 1920s and immediately relate. It looks almost like an old-timey TikTok, no?

There have always been fads and trends. There have been quite a few in the past decade. 

Remember fidget spinners? 

Cronuts? 

How about Tebowing?

And, of course, the Harlem Shake.

There’s more. ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, Pokemon Go, Words With Friends, Heelys, Mannequin Challenge. There has never been and never will be a shortage of garbage trends. 

But, in our increasingly virtual/digital lives, garbage trends are coming and going faster than ever. 

TikTok Ruins Everything

The spread of these trends that come and go is much faster.

“I think TikTok and these other algorithm-based platforms are a huge part of it.”

There is an entire South Park episode all about how quickly these trends come and go. Who can’t relate to catching up with a trend only to learn that it’s over? 

The youths can’t? Well, **** em. They will relate one day… 

Barely anyone knows how these algorithms work. [Even marketers] test something and then if it doesn’t blow up, they’ll just get rid of it.

“If it does [blow up], they’ll shove it in everyone’s faces and then move onto the next thing.” 

It does feel pretty random, doesn’t it?

Garbage Trends Aren’t Going Anywhere

Ultimately, is there anything wrong with garbage trends? Do they really hurt anyone? (I don’t mean physically, I’m sure someone’s been hit in the head by a fidget spinner.) Outside of that insult to cuisine that is baked feta pasta, garbage trends are at least fun. 

They’re a moment in the present that we often take for granted. We live in a time where we’re embarrassed by our past and anxious about our future. It’s nice to have these stupid little moments of levity. They keep us sane, if but for a moment. 

Onto the next one…

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Lifestyle

Irritating Jargon To Retire in 2022

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Sometimes people say the stupidest things. Then they say them again. And again. And then I get a migraine. Now that much of our lives are on various social media, we’re forced to read these stupid, irritating things. It’s time to stop it. So, here’s a nice list of irritating jargon to retire in 2022. 

That’s fair.

Is it? Because it sounds like you’re judging me and are too scared to say so. 

I did a thing.

Just say what you did. Actually, you know what? Don’t. I don’t care. 

Understood the assignment

What, you think you’re better than me? Like I didn’t understand the assignment?

Unprecedented times

Honey, it’s been two years of this crap. And before this, there were four years of different crap. It’s no longer unprecedented. It’s more like “near-chaos.” 

Trash

“That song is trash.” “This food is trash.” Wow, you’re really mean and dismissive. 

Tell me you’re ___ without telling me you’re ___

Or, you could just tell me what it is and save some syllables. 

2020 two

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA get out. 

THIS

“I’m too stupid and lazy to use my own words so I’m going to piggyback on someone else’s.” 

Sus

Not everything has to be monosyllabic. I’m not knocking brevity for brevity’s sake but you’re just being annoying. 

Photo dump

Is it too difficult to organize your photos? Why even share at all? Your memes aren’t that funny and we’ve seen enough of your cat. 

Bandwidth

Unless you’re referring to the internet, shut up. 

It is what it is

Lazy speech. You sound like you don’t know what to say and are afraid to appear like an idiot. This is the verbal equivalent of a shrug. Only it’s a cliche. Be better. 

Now, everybody stfu. I’ve had it with y’all. It is time for this irritating jargon to retire.

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Lifestyle

10 Free Ivy League Courses You Should Take In 2022

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Have you ever wanted to attend an Ivy League school without ever actually attending? Or paying? Who wouldn’t, right? Thankfully, there are all sorts of free Ivy League courses you can take right at home! 

Here are ten of the most essential free Ivy League courses you can take in 2022. 

Understanding Medical Research: Your Facebook Friend Is Wrong

We all could use this class. Especially your Facebook friend. The course covers study-design, research methods, and statistical interpretation. It also delves into the dark side of medical research by covering fraud, biases, and common misinterpretations of data. You will have the tools you need to shut your idiot Facebook friend up. Or, at the very least, the tools for you to differentiate between good and bad science. 

The Science of Well-Being

Do you think happiness just happens? Happiness isn’t as simple as skipping down the lane whistling an irritating tune. It takes work to be truly happy. This course has you engage in a series of challenges to increase your happiness and, most importantly, develop a series of healthy and productive habits. After the past few years, we need all the happiness help we can get. 

An Introduction To American Law

Every American should be at least somewhat familiar with our laws. This course will give you a glimpse into six different areas of American law: Tort Law, Contract Law, Property, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, and Civil Procedure. Be an informed citizen!

Study Nutrition Science

Too many of us do not understand nutrition. Sure, Funyuns are delicious, but they do nothing for us! In this course, you will learn the ins and outs of fats, carbohydrates, proteins, sugars, diet fads, and more and how they affect our body for better or worse.

Vital Signs: Understanding What The Body Is Telling Us

What is that pain? Is it nothing or something? Want to learn more about your body and its signals? The course is designed for a broad, general audience but will be particularly interesting for individuals working in healthcare, those considering a career as a healthcare professional, lay caregivers, those with an interest in personal health and fitness, or anyone who simply wants to understand how the body functions.

Improving Communication Skills

Everyone needs help sharpening their communication skills. In this course You’ll learn how to discover if someone is lying (and how to react if they are), how to develop trust, the best method of communication for negotiation, and how to apologize.

The Computing Technology Inside Your Smartphone

Do you know how your smartphone works? You might want to learn. This computer science course starts by moving step-by-step through the fundamental layers of computing technology, from binary numbers to application software, and then covers advanced performance techniques and the details of actual smartphone processors.

Religious Literacy: Traditions and Scriptures

It used to be that we would rely on clergymen to teach us what our religious books meant. Nowadays… not so reliable. Even atheists should take an education on religious literacy. In this religion course, learners explore case studies about how religions are internally diverse, how they evolve and change through time, and how religions are embedded in all dimensions of human experience.

Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies

Might as well learn about cryptocurrency. It’s here, it’s confusing, and all of your least favorite people are obsessed with it. After this course, you’ll know everything you need to be able to separate fact from fiction when reading claims about Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. You’ll have the conceptual foundations you need to engineer secure software that interacts with the Bitcoin network. And you’ll be able to integrate ideas from Bitcoin in your own projects.

Sharks!

What more do you need to know? Learn about nature’s perfect predator with the same wide-eyed fascination of a kid. In this activity‑rich course, you’ll track movements of a wild shark, observe shark habitats and behavior, and dig into the fossil record. You will also examine topics in the functional anatomy, sensory biology, reproduction, behavior, and ecology of many of the 1,200 living species.

Those are only just a few of many, many free Ivy League courses you can take. Here is the list. Get learning, nerds!

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