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Networking Psycho-fencing

Although I never had my skills at writing, I was toying wiht the idea of trying my my skills at being a critique. Let me talk on the ‘phenomenon’ of Network marketing.

I am sure that most of us have been approached by people, sometimes strangers, sometimes our own friends and relatives; talking about products that are outlandish in their properties and the wealth effect that they talk of could baffle the greatest economics professor. Some of the stereotyped dialogues are “What do you do? Oh that job, I’m sure it can’t pay you much. You are capable of earning more”. And then people lend their ears to them. You see, money is the best master to get anyone hearing to you. After the initial ‘Jhatka’, then starts off the ‘sermon’. If Sri Krishna were ever to be alive, he would have realized how ‘short and simple’ his sermon to Arjuna was.

The key words that a typical network marketer uses are: “extra income for no additional work”, “extra-ordinary products”, “and dramatic change in your lifestyle”, “you can help people by just sitting at home”. The dialogues go on and on. They just indulge you to become a part of the network and earn limit-less benefits. It is as if they are inviting you to take a dip in a gold-mine that they just discovered from nowhere.

Once, I had an experience of visiting a friend who dragged yours truly into a so called ‘opportunity meeting’ of a so called weight reduction product. Thank heavens I don’t have the need for such a product. If you say so, they would again counter you saying “this is not just for weight reduction, but it also helps keep your health intact”. Good god, if such things were ever true, there wouldn’t have been any need for doctors! The most surprising part of network psycho-fencing is that it is your own near and dear friends/relatives who may be dragging you into it! And then, the so called ‘opportunity meeting’ that I was talking about began. Out from nowhere there were a lot of people claiming that the product had done wonders on their life saying “I lost 10kgs in just one week!!! Thanks ** product (I wouldn’t name it)”. And they do this amidst thunderous claps and smiles of all the so called beneficiaries of these products. And then they say, “This can change your life, adapt this product and tell it to others, and get paid for getting members into it”. And again amidst roars of claps they declare their success stories. In fact, the only other place where I have seen so many happy-looking, dancing people is in the song sequences of Indian films where troupe dancers come from nowhere and start dancing with the hero and the heroine. The would-be members (read bakras) sit watching meekly.

Of course, for an MBA, these sort of psychedelic presentations mean nothing. They have been through them and know what they mean. To them, it would appear as if a session on ‘soft-skills’ was going on.
The wondrous part of a network marketer’s behavior is that they speak of it so desperately and try to get you into it as if they were helping you and they are doing a great favor by allowing you to become a part of their fraternity. This reminds me of a short story: A king sentences a convict that his nose be chopped off. After the king’s men do it, the convict suddenly starts laughing and prancing around. The curious onlookers ask him as to what happened. The nose-less convict says “I’m happy. I’m happy I can see god”. This arouses curiosity and more and more people start getting their noses chopped with a hope that they would see god. After they get it done, they were prancing around and telling everyone that they could see god. Soon this grew by proportions and the news about the ‘nose-less’ cult reached the king. The king too started wondering “Although I have ruled justly in this land and served my kingdom, I haven’t seen god yet. How about trying this method?” The king too got his nose chopped; only to realize his folly. You see, it works like the “Greater Fools Theory”

Well, that is how the story goes. Many companies (not to name them here) have realized that there is no point building up a large distribution network and incur expenses on advertising. Their funda is not to just sell a product, make him a distributor. This ensures a minimum fee for membership from the victims and the minimum sales that the hapless fellow would buy so as to break-even his yearly membership cost through the ‘dealer’ discounts or the ‘share in profit’ as the way it is called.

Another way of money making is just making members by paying a large sum and telling them to make ‘only’ two more members. And these two have to find another two members. Every time that the multilevel network goes on becoming larger and larger, the member in the up-line is promised benefits. In addition to this, they would have a yearly membership fee. With zeal to build larger networks, they take to “educating/helping” people as they call it about a Midas touch that can get you “unbounded wealth with no efforts”.

If making money were so easy, we would have seen everybody become a network marketer. That only proves to say that most of this is sham. If a company is promising not so big benefits, maybe, its products may be somewhat good or maybe worth a try. But, if they are promising outlandish benefits, it is better to keep away from such people no matter how close you were with them before they were infected with the “network psycho-fencing bug”.

Suggestions and criticism welcome.
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