I’ve taken the Like button off my blog. I’ve disabled the Like feature entirely, in fact. You can’t Like me anymore. I don’t want to be Liked!
I know, it’s the posts you’re Liking, but even so – go and Like somebody else’s!
The thing is, WordPress blogs are being targeted by spammy Likers who, truth be told, aren’t very Likeable. If you’ve got a WP blog, check out your Likers: you might find some of them are similar – unbelievably rich, free and enthusiastic entrepreneurs (or so they tell you), who want nothing more than to share with you the secrets of their success. IT’S TRUE, THEY ARE UNBELIEVABLE, DON’T BELIEVE THEM!
Of course, it doesn’t have to be a WordPress blog. If you have anything involving a computer connected to the Internet, you’re in danger of being targeted. In fact, even if you haven’t, you can be targeted on the phone if your details get into the hands of a boiler room, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they had smoke signals and drumming on hollow trees pretty well sewn up too.
But mine’s a WP blog, and we get fake Likes. You get email notifications when someone Likes your post, and it invites you to check out their blog in return. Unfortunately, we can’t edit the Likes individually on our blogs, just switch them on or off.
I was quite flattered. I was also quite vulnerable to becoming a victim of a marketing scam, as I’m looking for work and interested in online income streams, but in return for actual products or services.
I didn’t get conned. I’ve seen plenty of web pages stuffed with ridiculous claims and flashing CLICK NOW buttons, the more blatant end of the get-rich-quick industry. But the screwing-over fraternity is apparently getting much slicker and subtler. The crooks at the top of the pyramid are working together to screw us over more efficiently. Multi-level marketing (MLM) merges with more legitimate forms of internet marketing, so it is sometimes difficult to distinguish valuable products and services from vacuous manipulation. The bigger and more diverse the whole thing gets, the more confusing it becomes to try to market your online business. I have considered writing a blog on a particular subject (as opposed to this ragtag agglomeration) and hosting advertising to get paid, but I’m getting more and more anti-consumerist as time goes by. Why turn yourself into a billboard? There’s too much advertising already.
Then, many of the people conned into a scam have to choose whether to drop out and call it a learning experience or try to make it work as designed, which usually just means conning lots of other people. So innocent-looking people, who actually were innocent and would rather remain so, can end up lying their heads off to camera (video is apparently the scammer’s best marketing tool) talking about their wonderful life now they’ve joined XYZ, when they’re really up to their ears in debt. Selling the same bullshit downstream seems the best or only option (after all, someone upstream must be raking it in, aren’t they?).
Who Makes Money Out of Pyramid Selling?
It seems to me there must be a level on the pyramid separating those who make net losses (right down to being cleaned out and committing suicide) and those who make net gains (right up to actually becoming a complete and utter turd). But I don’t know a lot about it. I’ve read a few bits about the Empower Network and watched videos of the Project AWOL spotty morons wearing Nike shirts and backward baseball-caps, talking the talk (and possibly surfing the surf as well, but also probably unutterably sad, increasingly, as they wake up to the hollow sham that was their lives). They boast that they set up AWOL (Another Way of Living) as an “alternative to education”, which explains a lot.
(Incidentally, the previous link has the rel=”nofollow” tag – always a good idea when you link to things you want to criticise rather than promote.)
Personally, I think whichever side of the divide you’re on, it’s a sick way to live. As soon as you’re chasing money, you’ve lost. Yes, I know, they’ll tell you it’s not about the money, it’s about the lifestyle – which is another way of saying it’s about the money. Anyway, I found this video on the general phenomenon of sucking billions up through a pyramid to shove in your fat cake-hole whilst spewing pseudo-spiritual platitudes:
LinkedIn: A Nice Professional Site
I recently joined LinkedIn to help me with my jobseeking and find prospective business partners. My image of LinkedIn was very positive – it’s where the professionals do their social media thing, instead of sharing endless pictures of cats on Farcebook or twittering on Twatter. Even so, I hesitated.
As soon as I joined, the profile-creation wizard invited me to choose several “influencers” to follow, and that was when I began to realise what a dummy I am. There’s no reason LinkedIn should be a nice professional site, it’s full of people trying to make money and contacts, and money out of contacts. You can be sure it’s going to have its fair share of psychopathic assholes.
Sure enough, the choice of “influencers” was pretty small and included politicians and celebrities, business bigwigs like Richard Branson, and some other grinning faces. I pay little attention to celebrity, so didn’t know most of them. I googled and read blogs, and there was a preponderance of newerage gurus spreading spiritual consumerism.
It was a brief research project, and I may have missed some good folk. I noticed Deepak Chopra, the extraordinarily rich anti-materialist and snake-oil salesman. I chose to follow Daniel Goleman, who I still think might be a good egg, although I’m beginning to suspect everyone. I read most of Vital Lies, Simple Truths and have yet to finish it. It’s hard to imagine anyone writing about the psychology of self-deception could turn out to be deluded or a con artist, but I might be wrong.
It was then that I started to get splattered with the guano of Likes. My new community of admirers probably found me from LinkedIn, where I put a link to my blog.
Anyway, I’m beginning to ramble. Don’t get scammed! that was the message.
And if you’ve got a blog, don’t imagine that all those Likes are real. Some of them might be bids to get you or your readers to click through to their blog, where they’ll begin to sell a bunch of lies about becoming filthy rich working a 2-hour week on your smartphone while you travel the world spreading love and happiness. That kind of thing. Or just being a real badass. Which is, apparently, cool.
And that unfortunately can put us innocent bloggers in the position of unwittingly enabling unethical and illegal activities that are wrecking untold lives.
I still enjoy feedback and criticism. I instigated a voting system on my posts to stroke my ego instead of being Liked, but I’m not sure I even like that and I’ll probably take it off again. On the increasingly automated, inhuman Interwebs, there’s nothing like real, qualitative comments from real people. I Love comments!
P.S. There’s no point, however, commenting to tell me Project AWOL isn’t a scam, or linking to anyone else telling us that. It may not be (I think it is), but if it were, you would expect a lot of people online telling us how wonderful it is. And if it isn’t – if, in other words, it really does make its users rich after paying for its marketing secrets ($300, I’m told) – then it’s still just a wasteful, empty pyramid scheme, it still encourages the global addiction to easy money. It’s still an alternative to education and an alternative to working. But so far I haven’t seen any of its proponents talking about what they produce, sell or even promote, apart from the project itself. If it quacks like a duck…
P.P.S. I just might reinstate Likes on this page to see what rusty bits of shopping trolley I can trawl. They don’t take long to read – they’re usually a two page blog, one page saying how wonderful life is and where to put in your email address, the other the most awesome (arse-hum) tips on keeping people on your site, like not writing long paragraphs! Don’t write long paragraphs! Christ, are you writing long paragraphs!? Fuck, don’t! Long paragraphs make them (the seasoned author giving advice and their commentators) run a mile, skim, glaze over! You have to keep your paragraphs short in this day and age, they all repeat, in keeping with people’s (the author’s etc.) attention spans.
No fear of reading a book, then. MLM is an alternative to education.
The Seedy Underbelly of Internet Marketing (Dacka’s Razor)