For Sale: Fake Friends

It began innocently. Someone’s friend was selling Pampered Chef kitchen goods, and someone else told me that I couldn’t LIVE without the mini spatula, and despite the fact that I bake about as frequently as I compete in Ironman Triathlons, I nodded gamely and made the purchase.

'Madam, could I sell you a collection of encyclopedias that you’ll probably never read?'

(Confession: It’s a remarkably handy utensil that allows me to flip eggs like Al Pacino in Frankie and Johnny. I really don’t know how I lived without it… apparently I spent most of my twenties serving my house guests ragged brownies and dented pancakes. No buyer’s remorse here!)

Within a week, the emails began sneaking in, undeterred by my spam filter and piss-poor attitude. 

Saturday Only! A Tastefully Simple Holiday Extravaganza!

Harsh cleaning products are putting your family in danger…
Straight from Scandinavia comes a new hope!

Can’t Miss: PartyLite + Cabi + Thirty-One + Rendi Open House! Makeover your world!

Translation: Grab your checkbook and we’ll help you create the story-boarded, luxuriously tailored, neatly organized, sparkling cranberry-scented existence of your dreams!

The invitations to spend came from friends, friends of friends, and a couple random colleagues I’d only ever “met” on conference calls. Without a doubt the most egregious offender was a family acquaintance I hadn’t seen since college, who started dropping off samples of $90 Arbonne moisturizer and (no lie) bottles of miraculous weight loss water on my front porch when I wasn’t home.

Ouch.

As a financial reality, these women-to-women sales schemes suck. (And I do mean women; seriously, how many middle aged dudes do you know who shill Stella and Dot to their Facebook friends?) These companies almost exclusively target women—mostly financially strapped young moms—with “it’s easy and fun to sell to your girlfriends” messaging.

Naturally, these pyramids are designed to fail. Plenty of smart people have written about this already. Jezebel did a great feature article, which you can read here. Harper’s Magazine published an epic take-down of Mary Kay. Social selling clubs prey, in the worst way, on women’s desire to contribute to their household, to stay connected with friends and colleagues, and on some level to develop sales skills with a product they believe in. A handful of the cleverest companies even have the balls to traffic in the language of female empowerment.

The promises don’t bear out. The vast majority of these earnest entrepreneurs are destined to find themselves, months later, crashed out on a pile of shipping boxes, clutching receipts that don’t measure up, wondering how the fuck they’re going to unload 1800 sheets of Jamberry nail appliqués.

Less significantly, the sales tactics and the email blasts and the online parties are annoying. (Really, you want me to put on my jammies and pour a glass of wine and “hang out” with some virtual strangers in a Facebook event at 9:00 on a Wednesday night, browsing for a new miracle moisturizer? Do people do this now?) I don’t have time for real parties, with real people and real alcohol. But this… it’s all artifice. If our friendship depends on my Younique eyelash extension order, then you probably don’t know me all that well to begin with, seeing as how the last time I wore eye makeup was on a total fail of a Valentine’s Day blind date in 2003. (He reeked of stale smoke and kept asking me if I was into spankings.) In other words, if you’ve offered me discounted Jockey Person-to-Person yoga pants for half a decade and I’ve never acquiesced, take the hint.

If you want to be friends, let’s be friends. Don’t be my consultant, my style guide, my image curator or my aesthetician. Woo me via the traditional methods of friend courtship: spontaneous lunch dates, drunken late night texts, and endless support in response to my equally endless complaints about how my baby is, once again, teething. Let’s keep it real, girl.*

*None of the previous applies to Scentsy. I love that shit and will buy it anytime, anywhere, from anyone.

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4 thoughts on “For Sale: Fake Friends

  1. OMG, I am so tired of neighbors, friends and family members hawking wares for their kids from the first day of school. These are fundraisers to pay for equipment or supplies that my school taxes should pay for (I have no kids left at home so I am basically contributing my school taxes). When I worked in an office it was constant and you were shamed into ordering something, anything or be the only person who didn’t. It was almost daily. Most kids aren’t doing the selling, their parents are. I do buy from multiple boy and girl scouts because I love the popcorn and cookies, but it can get to be expensive when you are approached by neighbor children, family members and friends. I also resent parents begging for money on roadways and in front of stores to get money to send their kids to athletic conferences etc. I am all for car washes or bake sales so kids can earn the money to attend these activities and I don’t have a problem with parents helping the kids out with the fundraisers, but why should I outright pay their way? I hate to step on parent’s toes but I do think it should be known that there are some people who can’t afford to buy items they don’t want or need just because they feel obligated.

    Like

  2. I caught your last post on Freshly Pressed IDGAS and that one was pretty hilarious too. Then I scrolled through some of your other stuff and found it pretty funny. This one in particular strikes a chord as I’ve met many of these fundraising acquaintances that just make me feel like never leaving the house and seeing how you’ve just got Freshly Pressed I imagine you’ll have many new followers that become blogging buddies, fake friends, or stalkers. I hope to fall the first category the one that’s just someone who enjoys your stories, your sense of humor and someone who was glad to have run into you in this big blogging community. Look forward to reading about the rest of your adventures.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: 6 Parents You Meet on the First Day of School | Punch Drunk Village

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