If heaven is for clean people, it’s vacant.
—Matthew Good

My guess is the universe is just a bunch of shit that happened and we’re little more than semi-sentient stardust meat sacks on a small rock circling an insignificant ball of burning gas until we dirt nap. Eternity sounds like a colossal bore, regardless of whether it’s halos on heads or pitchforks in posterior orifices.

If there is an afterlife, I’m probably going to hell. At least, according to the majority of the world’s religions I will be.

Sartre wrote, “Hell is other people.” If Lucifer wants to lay down some diabolical deterrents, he’ll populate the place with the pyramid-pushing multi-level misanthropes who served to make life suck while you’re on the right side of the dirt.

And it’s a lot of sucking, judging by the response to my request for stories about annoying asswipes pushing MLMs. Over seven hundred comments and close to a hundred private messages later, I’d read of every dirty trick you can imagine by those selling Amway, Herbalife, It Works!, Shakeology, Isagenix, Thrive, Juice Plus+, Plexus, essential oils, and cleaning products and jewelry and makeup and Buddha knows what else.

I was able to discern a pattern among the douchebaggery. Behold, the thirteen multi-level marketers you meet in Hell. Or Facebook. Or wherever.

1. The “Friend” from High School
A.K.A. the “Hey, girl” or the “hun” bot.

“Hey, girl. It’s me. That girl who either totally ignored you or lowkey bullied you in high school, hun. Anyway, hun, I never left our small town but now I’m totally a #successful #mompreneur living a #blessed life and you can too if you #embrace this amazing #opportunity that’s totally #notapyramid scheme. Don’t mind me while I add you to this Facebook group again and again. Hun.”

Hint: If they say it’s not a pyramid scheme, it totally is.

2. The Ambulance Chaser
Like a shark that smells blood in the water, they are drawn to those with any sort of ailment and present them with a “miracle cure.”

“So sorry to read that your mom has cancer. She needs to stop that Big Pharma chemo bullshit and try these essential oils. It’s the secret to curing cancer that they don’t want you to know about.”

“I saw you posting about your child’s autism. Have you tried Juice Plus+?”

“Your rheumatoid arthritis is no match for Herbalife!”

3. The Guilt Tripper
Often associated with the Ambulance Chaser.

“Well it’s obvious you don’t care about finding a cure for your loved one’s illness if you won’t attend this four-hour high-pressure indoctrination session that you must bring your check book to so you can order thousands of dollars’ worth of mediocre unsellable crap and become part of my downstream network and help me achieve MY dreams of being rich while fulfilling the dreams of my upstream network to make them rich because everyone gets rich and women should support women and chemicals are killing the planet and killing you and don’t forget about the cure to lose weight now ask me how but also being rich and I can’t believe you let me buy you a latte but now you won’t sign your life over to my indentured servitude you suck I hope you die.

I will only call, text, and email you eighty more times before I give up.

4. The Fundamentalist
Their pitch was slick and sucked you into attending an event that was like watching a bible belt preacher trying to bring down the rapture. He babbled like a toddler on a near-lethal combination of pop rocks and methamphetamine about how this nutrient-infused gummy bear is the key to world domination. He kept talking about how you were going to be part of a special group with inside information for only a privileged few. When you tried to leave, handlers were there to block the exits and guide you back to your seat for more of the brainwashing.

The entire session felt like you were in peril of being sucked into a dangerous cult. Those feelings were accurate.

5. The Soon to be Former Friend
This one sucks the hardest.

Because you were good friends, and they tried to pull you in, but you weren’t having any of their “leverage your friendships” marketing strategy. You tried to pry them away from the cult, but their “mentor,” or whatever the fuck, made them choose: “Your friends, or your dream job.”

And they were all like, “I don’t need your kind of negativity in my life. If you can’t see what a great opportunity you’re passing up and won’t support me in my dreams, then we can’t be friends anymore.”

In some cases, it’s even “We can’t be married anymore.”

6. The “Job Opportunity”
They reach out to people looking for work on job boards, post “career opportunities,” and even come up to random strangers working in retail to complement them on their people skills and say, “I think you’d be a great fit for this amazing job opportunity.”

But the only one writing any checks is you.

7. The Incessant “I love my life!” Social Media Maven
One of the least annoying of the thirteen, they just post a lot on Facebook etc. about how much “I love my life! So happy I get to live my dreams and work from home and be with my children with this wonderful company selling these amazing products. I can’t believe I get paid for this! Hit me up if you want to learn more!”

Whatever you do, don’t hit them up.

8. The Boss
“Hey, I know I’m your boss and this isn’t at all appropriate for me to be using my position in this company to try and rope you into this multi-level marketing scheme, but come into my office and let me rope you into this multi-level marketing scheme.”

9. The Bait and Switcher
Adults understand how challenging it is to make new friends, and after the age of 30 it always seems a little unreal when you seem to connect with someone who could become a close buddy. You meet them and they’re friendly and interested in you, and then you get a Facebook friend request, and you begin chatting back and forth and you’re really excited about this new pal and then they message you with, “So, have you heard about Plexus?”

Sometimes it’s a whole new group of “friends,” and you’re invited over to hang out, but what you thought was going to be an enjoyable get together rapidly devolves into them trying to make you “One of us. One of us.”

It also happens where you think you’re going on a date, but you’re totally not.

10. The New Mom Stalker
“Hey, that’s such a cute baby you have. I can help you lose that baby weight.”

11. The Obfuscator
Them, posting on Facebook: “This amazing product cured me of my terrible ailment. Message me to find out how you can try it!”
You: “What is it?”
Them: “Message me!”
Another commenter: “What’s the name of the product?”

Them: “Send me a PM and I’ll tell you all about it!”
Yet another commenter: “How much does it cost?”

Them: “Sending you a message now, hun!”

12. The Unprofessional
“Hi. It’s me. Your dentist. With a drill in your face. Since you can’t talk right now allow me to tell you all about this amazing opportunity that is going to change your life …”

13. The Family Member
All you wanted to do was let your turkey digest and watch some fucking football, but there was cousin Bob with “the opportunity of a lifetime.” And you thought death would be an escape. Sucker.

Imagine arriving in Hell and seeing Bob beyond the veil, just waiting to tell you about how this new formula will “enhance your health at the cellular level.” Never mind the fact that you’re on fire.

“You have to spend money to make money and this all-natural essential oil detox cleanse organic antioxidant not a pyramid scheme recovery shake—”

“AAAAUUUGGGHHHH!!!! I had to put up with your bullshit when I was alive and you’re part of my eternal torment too? What did I do to deserve this? It’s not like I drowned kittens. Hey, Satan! Is there some other kind of torture I can opt for here? Help a guy out. Is the rack free?”

Satan: “Sorry. Rack is booked. Boiling oil is open though.”

“I’ll take it. Anything to get me away from this worthless fuck puddle.”

Satan: “I gotchu, fam.”

To Learn More and Save Your Soul …
If you’re considering giving in to one of these MLM-pitching hellions, understand that despite it being an industry worth almost $40 billion in the U.S alone, only about 1% of people involved in such sales pyramids make any money at it.

If you want to read my pieces on specific MLM companies, here you go:

John Oliver did a great exposé of MLMs you can watch here (and see that meth-addled preacher I described starting at the 4-minute mark). And if you’d
like to watch a Hollywood version of how cringeworthy an MLM pitch can be, watch it here.

I know the idea of easy money via MLM is enticing, but know this: If it sounds too good to be true, it’s about as reliable as having Charlie Sheen as your designated driver.

Subscribe to my sweary history column at JamesFell.Substack.com. Buy my book On This Day in History Sh!t Went Down


James S. Fell, MA, MBA, has bylines in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, the Guardian, TIME Magazine, and many other publications. His blog is read by millions of people and he is the author of two books: The Holy Sh!t Moment: How Lasting Change Can Happen in an Instant (St. Martin’s Press, 2019), and Lose it Right: A Brutally Honest 3-Stage Program to Help You Get Fit and Lose Weight Without Losing Your Mind (Random House Canada, 2014). Order them here.