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Aug 10, 2017

See you at 2!

We'll start in a few, for the 17 of us who aren't on an August vacation today.

While we're waiting to start: a friend shared this article about multi-level marketing companies. What are MLM's? Think modern-day Mary Kay. If you have a friend on Facebook who seems weirdly obsessed with talking about the vitamins that are making his/her skin really clear, or the cookware invented by two empowering women, then s/he is probably working for an MLM and trying to recruit you.


Have you experienced this, as a seller or a bystander? What do you make of it? I was fascinated. 

I recently read a Quartz article about LulaRoe leggings. Last spring, I bought a pair from a friend who signed up as a consultant, but am in no way affiliated with this company. I am now obsessed with its detractors- I've joined- (and check several times a day)- a Facebook group dedicated to shoddy merchandise and ex-consultants, read blogs written by disgruntled customers/ex-consultants and generally sought out negative articles written about the company. I have no investment in LulaRoe- financial or otherwise; so why am I so obsessed? I honestly don't give a fig one way or another about these clothes, or this company's success. Is this another "Honestly, Monica," _Cooks Source_ bystander trainwreck? Is this just a product of our 24/7 online lives? Am I just so sick of seeing constant MLM schemes in my feed and am now enjoying some schadenfreude? Any insight?

What do you think of the friend who you bought the leggings from? Is she a friend or a "friend"? DO YOU SUBCONSCIOUSLY WANT HER TO FAIL?

And man, thanks for bringing up the Cooks Source kerfuffle of 2010, which I had completely forgotten about.

I've been sitting in a hospital waiting room for 2hrs already and have at least 3 more to go. Don't toy with my emotions, this chat is literally the high point of my day today.

We're here, we're here. I'm so sorry you're in a hospital waiting room. I hope it's routine and everything is okay.

It's...really something, isn't it?

I have too many friends who do these. I hate it- the deceptive "oh I'm having a fun gathering", the pressure to buy , even the virtual "parties" are terrible, etc. several have started to do it as their "birthday party" ala 'It's HER day but Shemathy is throwing YOU a party!!!' Which is a groaner on about 3 levels.

I'm such a dope, it took me several rounds of reading, "this eyelash serum is amazing, it will make your eyelashes grow seven inches long," before I finally realized, "she is trying to sell you the eyelash serum. That is what is happening."

I'm amazed that you found it fascinating, as you're a Midwesterner. Unless you don't have any SAHM friends from back home, I don't know how anyone avoids seeing this crap all the time. These companies prey on women who feel the need to financially contribute to their household and just end up losing tons of money, friends, and respect. I've had to ask a number of more casual friends from rural MD to refrain from inviting me to their selling parties. My rule is that if you don't invite me to your kid's birthday party, don't try to sell me anything.

Oh, I do have SAHM friends, and I do see the posts all the time. I didn't mean I found the article fascinating -- sorry, confusing wording -- I meant that I found the culture of it fascinating.

We're all trying to sell ourselves on Facebook anyway. It's just that we're usually trying to convince our friends that our lives are funnier, prettier, happier than they are. Maybe that's why Facebook is such a natural place for MLMs. Behold, my life is wonderful and it is because I am wearing LuLaRoe leggings. 

I'm old enough to recall then-VP Spiro Agnew predicting the possibility that the 1972 election might have to be postponed or canceled because of all the political turmoil in the nation at the time.

Times like this are when I wish we had perfected the whole cryogenic freezing thing. So we could defrost, say, a Whig, and ask him, "Hi. When the country went bonkers in your time, did it look anything like this?"

MLMs are getting to be such a big issue with me, and I'm still trying to figure out how to navigate relationships with the women I care about who get involved. I grew up in the suburbs of Salt Lake City, which is a HUGE hotspot for MLMs. I'm added to "Facebook parties" for Jamberry and Lipsense weekly, can't go a day without seeing a sales pitch on social media, and people I haven't spoken to for years will send messages inviting me to join their teams. As soon as I hide or unfriend one person to avoid it, another will sign up. What worries me most is how to best support my friends who are involved (my actual friends, not vague acquaintances who come out of the woodwork). On one hand, some of the products are fairly good (if slightly overpriced), and I do want to help our the people I care about. On the other, do I want to support such predatory companies? What's really concerning is how so many of these women turn their "businesses" into their whole lives, which makes it hard to keep the same type of relationship. I feel bad for hoping they eventually fail or give it up, but I'd like a conversation that doesn't end with a sales pitch.

First, what is a Jamberry.

Second -- everything you ask is the crux of the dilemma, right? It's easy enough to brush off the folks you haven't spoken to in years. It's a little harder to say to a good friend, "I do need to buy olive oil, but I think your product is terrible and you are crazy. Cheers."

I have a good friend who was in with one of the essential oil MLMs. It was almost a cult. She, and the other reps, were told very misleading and *dangerous* ways to use the oils and she perpetuated this info. Thank goodness I can read and think for myself and figured out how bad it was. I'm sure the MLMs are not all that bad, but geez.

Is this like Gwyneth Paltrow with her jade eggs? Is your friend Gwyneth?

If, hypothetically, someone were to buy a recent and well-received book about arson, which method of purchase works out the best for the author - kindle, ibooks, or dead tree version?

Whichever one you'll read and enjoy :)

I know "consultants" for both Lularoe and Rodan + Fields, and I have to say that the Facebook feeds are pretty annoying. No one tries to recruit me, I'm happy to say, but it seems like every other entry is about their sales. I know they are passionate about it, and who am I to dictate someone's passion, but I do think it is a little ridiculous when a person gets to a point where the ONLY clothing she wears is Lularoe. So call me judgmental, I guess!

Are they passionate about it, or desperate? I would just be in a panic cycle that I hadn't offloaded enough stuff.

Too hot. Places I would want to go may be even more hot and don't have enough air conditioning. DC is a bit boring in August, but I'm trying to get into a better sleep schedule (last week it worked a bit, this week I'm slipping back). Planning stuff to do this fall. October is the best vacation month, but for a variety of reasons, this year is going to end up being a week on the cheap in NY. Plus maybe I'll take scuba lessons and open up some more good vacation destinations. That I will not visit in August.

But October is one of the three nearly-guaranteed good-weather months in DC, when it's not sleeting or boiling? October in DC is lovely, taking vacations then is nonsense.

But I'm with you on August. In August, you can finally get a seat on the metro, a parking space on the street, and a table at the restaurant. Might as well enjoy the city while it empties out, and the public pools are free.


And now you know one of the reasons I steadfastly refuse to join Facebook. Or LinkedIn, or Twitter, or, or, or... My life's clearly more peaceful this way.

Sorry, no agreement here. I'm on the record of being exasperated with folks who refuse to try things because of pre-conceived notions of what something is or isn't. Facebook and Twitter have downsides, but upsides too.

That's why we have historians. (And for Watergate, you still have Woodward & Bernstein!).

No, I demand William Henry Harrison in the flesh.

I am not on Facebook to convince my friends that I am funnier, prettier, and happier than they are. Just sayin

Of course not. And I didn't mean "than they are" referring to our friends, I meant it as referring to our humdrum lives. Find me a single person whose posts are things like, "Clipping my toenails now" or "Here is a picture of the Jiffy Lube waiting room." Everyone is curating everything they post.

I moderate a group on Facebook, so when someone requests to join, I glance at their page to make sure they're not a spammer. It blows me away how many groups of Lularoe parties some of these people are in. Lately I've had a friend go on some kind of cleanse and post about it daily so can only assume it's some sort of MLM. I refuse to try to determine anything further than that.

LuLaRoe will not rest until we are all clad in festive leggings.

I have toyed with totally dropping out of the social media game in the past year or so but then I realize how silly that is. As you say there is so much that is good and interesting there. The key is to figure out how to increase those parts and decrease the noise. It reminds me of the people who want to throw out their TV because there are bad shows on. Yes there are. And there are great ones too. Simple solution, watch the great ones.

To be clear, I'm totally cool with someone deciding to quit Facebook because they tried it and didn't really like it. I'm just flummoxed by people who refuse to ever join it because of sanctimonious assumptions that may or may not be accurate.

I found out today that the hubby of a friend is [News super interesting to D.C. Wonks that is too specific to share] I can't tell anyone but I'm dying to so this vaguepost in your chat is my outlet. Thanks for listening

Is this news like real news, or like, "Hubby of a friend is the fourth author of a scholarly article that is going to be published in Wonk Daily"?

It is a combination of knowing I already spend an unholy amount of time on-line. Maintaining that as well would be too much for me. I know I am missing some stuff. But I also protect myself from other things. And I maintain a level of privacy that I don't think is possible if you get sucked in. And having had some friends tangentially involved in a DC scandal, I'm gun shy of being associated with a place that could draw the ire of some of the nasties out there.

This makes sense to me.

As a childless office worker, it's almost to be expected that all of the people with kids will be gone for chunks of August to squeeze in vacation time before their kids go back to school. On the one hand, less people in the office means the office is more tranquil and I get first dibs on projects that come in. On the other hand, if you don't take August vacation with the rest of the breeders, then you get complaints about that vacation you want to take in September or October being at a "bad time". I usually remind people that I was in the office working all summer while they were at the beach. Fall is my summer.

I know offices where everyone furtively schedules their vacation time at the same time as the boss, so that nobody worries they are vacationing too much.

About a year ago I had a high-school-acquaintance-now-Facebook-friend post about facing a major decision, discussing it with her close friends, praying on it, etc., and she would have an update soon. I wondered about divorce, another baby, or something else dishy, but (as many of you have already guessed) she announced that she was going to start selling cosmetics. I shall not fooled again!


I thought the poster was going to have a funny story about the bar Secrets, which I remember for being memorable back in the day. Is it still open? Many a strange evening there in my younger days. At least back then it was somewhat of a good place for a younger man to meet a more experienced (and sometimes married) woman. Secrets indeed.

I just did a quick google of Secrets Bar to see if it was still open, and Google suggested I was really looking for "Seacrets," which appears to be an ocean-themed hotel...for...I don't know...jellyfish with something to hide?

There was a group of women (about 14 of us) going on a trip together (sponsored by an organization) -- so we barely knew each other. Someone said: oh, let's put together a Facebook page! everyone -- everyone -- said: that's a great idea!! except for ...that *one* person. Who threw up her hands and said: oh, I don't *do* Facebook. *sigh*. So the rest of us had to suffer through these absurd email threads and keep getting emails and those long emails because no one ever trims their emails. SO SO annoying. I cannot even tell you how much. Just join for this ONE GROUP???? why do we have to suffer for you?!?

I'm curious to know how others would have responded, but I think at that point, I would have said, "We'll make sure to send you an email a week before the trip telling you where to meet us and what to bring. If you'll be bummed by missing out on the more detailed planning, then you should probably get an account, just for this trip."

She could have left all the personal information blank and opted not to friend people, if privacy was a concern.


I think the real problem is that expressions like "Facebook friends" and their ilk devalue the concept of friendship, as opposed to being mere acquaintances. Sure, all true friends started out as acquaintances, but most acquaintances don't make the cut.

Nah. They don't. People who use Facebook know that "Facebook friend" is a mere expression, just like "work friend" has been an expression for decades. Having a work friend in no way de-values the deeper relationships that you have with other friends. Nobody has ever been like, "Now that I have Facebook friends, I am no longer able to call my real friends for a heart-to-heart, because the concept of friendship has changed so much that I no longer recognize it."

that's why it was great when the kids were homeschooling. Older child decided to go to high school -- so now we are dealing with that schedule. And he loves it so he wants to go so when we pulled him out for ONE DAY (that wasn't even a real day -- he only has half days of advising on Fridays!) -- he was really angry about it (we were going to a special occasion of close friends of ours). Boy it's annoying when kids grow up and have opinions.

Darn kids who want to *go to school and succeed.*

OP here. My most basic objection is that it takes time and energy away from activities I'd rather be doing in real life. My other major objection is that I treasure my privacy, upon which social media by definition intrude. I'm also not that eager to know the details of the lives of others who may (by my standards) tend to over-share.

Noted, thanks.

Ok, definitely cannot find it now. I know it was somewhere near 18th-20th and K,L,M streets. Mid 2000s. It had boats inside for some seats. I swear it was called Secrets, but maybe it had a different name. God, now I feel old.

Maybe it still exists but it is...a secret.

I know what the poster meant, but how is social media not real life?

Oh, and I know what you mean -- but also, plenty of us probably don't end our weeks thinking, "I should have spent more time at the computer this week."

Well, that wouldn't help that much. Its the Whigs and their compatriots who would have had to perfect the cryogenic thing for that to work, right? Yes, I'm pedantic. You want to make something of it?

The plan is that we simultaneously perfect cryogenic freezing and also time travel.

I just wanted to personally tell you (if this counts as personal) how much I enjoyed reading AMERICAN FIRE. Your research and reporting was amazing and you managed to write it so the book feels like a fictional thriller. But it is all true! I hope you are getting great feedback on it. Thanks for taking the time to expand an already good newspaper feature into a great non-fiction book. I hope we get more like it from you.

Hey, thanks!

I work for the corporate headquarters of an MLM. (I am not telling you which company.) We aren't a scam or a pyramid scheme...but I can also say with total honesty that I wouldn't want to be -- or know -- anyone who actually sells our products.

I have to leave a bit early today, and I think this is a good place to end.

We will not be chatting next week -- I'll be on my own August vacation and mostly away from a computer. See you the week after? GSTQ.

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Monica Hesse
Monica Hesse is a staff writer for the Post Style section. She frequently writes about culture, the Web and the intersection of the two.

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