5.6 Editor's Pick
October 20, 2021

We’re all stuck in the Global Pyramid Scheme of Selling ourselves Online.

I bought some incense at the Chinese supermarket in the small Costa Rican town where I live.

On the box it says, “Attracts Money, Atrae Dinero.” It cost the equivalent of about $1. 

It seemed like a wise investment, especially since I like incense anyway and it helps with the mosquitos, which are out in full force due to the rainy season wetness. 

I went home, made a clever post to my Instagram story about it, and then lit some incense and thought about how rich I would soon become. An hour later, I received an email for a new contract job offer. The incense worked.

Never mind that it was with a company I’ve worked with before and receive contracts with a couple times each year. Never mind. The incense worked. 

A week later, I went back to wander the random aisle of the Super New China and saw that they had added some new types of incense. I also noticed that there was only one box of Attracts Money incense left. Even though I still had half a box at home, I greedily took the last one. 

Now, I did feel a slight tinge of guilt because I didn’t need all the incense. I could have left it for someone else. 

However, I have been conditioned by capitalism, and the mosquitos are really bad right now—so I bought it. 

But then I thought, why not share my abundance? Why not share this wealth-generating, mosquito-repelling experience with others? So I decided I could offer little Zoom conferences where I burn the incense in my mosquito-ridden home and manifest wealth for my clients. It’s a one-time session win-win.

I’ll teach people how to use this method over multiple sessions. And then eventually, I’ll teach people how to teach people how to use this method. Then I’ll certify people. Honestly, it sounds like a real goldmine.

You see, when you purchase my coaching or ongoing manifestations, it means the incense is working for me, and naturally, that means I can make it work for you too. 

Sound familiar? 

I have often reflected on how Instagram, or social media in general, has become a marketplace and how we commodify everything we touch and think—even down to our clichés. 

We sell our personalities and then sell courses on how to teach other people to sell their personalities. It’s a global pyramid scheme. Personality isn’t worth much? (I can relate.) Just start a new account and try on a new one. 

Yesterday I watched a Reel of a young woman advertising her services on how to get clients and build your online business. She had about 16 likes and 100 followers. And I thought, huh.

Now, I’m not criticizing her specifically, or any other individuals who do this on social media. If that is how they want to spend their time and earn money, I support it. I do stuff on the internet too.

My yoga background taught me to let go of judgment and see my criticisms of others as mirrors of myself. My MA program taught me to dissect and criticize heavily and (mostly) intelligently. 

I’m trying to come at this from somewhere in between, where I’m not hating on any individual human, but questioning where we have gotten to in our process of humanity. Are we doing life well as a species? I’m often a little skeptical, and not only when I think about the commodification of personality. 

Is capitalism the problem or is it us: the inherently flawed humans that we are? It’s kind of a chicken or egg situation, isn’t it? 

I’m anti-capitalism, not because I think capitalism is evil—it’s just a system. I’m anti-capitalism insofar as I see it isn’t really working for the vast majority of humans or the planet. And even if it is working for some humans, but not the planet, then that means the rest of us are basically f*cked, right? Let Jeff Bezos, or whatever other billionaires, take themselves to colonize Mars while we stay here to clean up the mess. Or die. 

So sometimes I feel a little wary about how we’ve turned social media from a place to share and connect through pictures and stories, which is a truly wonderful part of being human, to a digital marketplace where every person and their personality(s) is a self-proclaimed commodity. 

Did we do that? Or did capitalism? 

On the other hand, I also see the way we use social media as an attempted escape from capitalism. Every millennial, Gen Z, xillenial, or whatever we all are, except for Boomers (and even some Boomers too), is out here trying to make a living posting pictures and videos and selling ideas. Because, why? Is it a global popularity contest?

Or are we all just sick of the idea of working for someone else’s company for the rest of our lives, making money for the elite few to continue hoarding the wealth, selling our lives at 40-50 hours per week, and for what? A pile of debt to an imperial, patriarchal, oligarchical, colonial system that oppresses and/or enslaves the vast majority of humans on the planet?

Could it be that? 

Could it be that even if we don’t actively reflect on this as why, most of us are sick and tired of living under this system? That even those privileged among us who benefit from the system are becoming weakened in our spirit by its toxicity? That we are sick and tired of watching the planet that gives us life be destroyed so a few white men can rack up digits in their bank accounts?

Nah. Probably not. It’s probably just that Reels are so much fun! And the dopamine hit we get from receiving likes feels so good. 

But is it sustainable? Some people make money from posting and sharing online, and then everyone wants to share in that same freedom. But is there a saturation point? A point where everyone in the digital space is a producer and no one is a consumer? How many personalities can the average user consume? I’m not sure I’m ready for that kind of equation. It’s interesting to consider though. 

For now, I’ll be burning my incense and planning my virtual course. Hit me up if you want a spot. 

Trust me. The incense was the best financial decision I’ve made in a while.


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