by Mr. Cheap

When people get indoctrinated into MLM (multi-level marketing, where you make money by getting other people to join and pass you a share of their earnings – the people who start it make all the money and the people who join later pay all the money) they’re warned to beware of dreamkillers.  What’s a dreamkiller?  Someone who tries to talk sense into them.

Much like abusive spouses and cults, MLM networks know its important to separate victims from the people in their lives who love them and will try to help them.  The abuser gives a reason why the person’s social network isn’t to be trusted, isolates them, which makes it easier to continue harming the person.  MLM networks label a person’s social supports as “dreamkillers” and warn inductees that the dreamkillers in their lives just want to keep the inductee as a boring ordinary person and are trying to sabotage the inductee’s efforts to improve their life.

I came across a heartbreaking letter (linked to the google cache, the original site, Writers Manifesto, seems to have exceeded its bandwidth). The woman writes a letter dripping with venom to her parents, who’s primary insult to her seems to have been warning her off of MLM, suggesting that a restaurant might be a good business to start in Australia, and wanting to talk about family instead of the author’s latest schemes.

‘How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child.’

Reading between the lines, I’m sympathetic to the parents’ perspective, they worry about their child, tried to warn her away from businesses they knew were bad news, try to help channel her entrepreneurial spirit to more productive ventures (or encourage her to build on the stability of a traditional career) and get depressed when they hear their daughter getting worked up about a new scheme (and perhaps getting angry at them when they won’t get dragged into it).

Paul Graham gave what I think is the best explanation on why parents are risk-adverse:

One is that parents tend to be more conservative for their kids than they would be for themselves. This is actually a rational response to their situation. Parent’s end up sharing more of their kids’ ill fortune than good fortune. Most parents don’t mind this; it’s part of the job; but it does tend to make them excessively conservative.

Our author goes on to iterate that she resents everything she’s done for her parents over the years, moved to another country to get away from them, and plans to become a millionaire and then spite them for not supporting her (I assume by not giving them money).  Charming to the end.

I DESPISE people and organizations which willfully and systematically introduce this kind of discord into families.  And in the case of the MLM, its just to make a fast buck.

If someone is trying to prepare you to ignore advice from your friends or family, please be very, very careful.  Whatever their rationale, when someone tells you to stop listening to all the people who love you, you’re getting out on thin ice.

Having known people who survived abusive relationships, cults and MLM networks, sadly the only thing we can do from the outside is keep telling them we think they’re in danger until they get angry at us, then we need to shut up.  After that just let them know how much we love them and we’re there when and if they need help.

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