October 30, 2020


This Will Change Your Life: Why the grandiose promises of multilevel marketing and QAnon conspiracy theories go hand in hand (Kaitlyn Tiffany, OCTOBER 28, 2020, The Atlantic)

Jordan schrandt--blond, beautiful, mother of eight, founder of The Farmhouse Movement magazine, which teaches readers how to achieve "a lifestyle of authenticity, simplicity, and kindness"--is a Royal Crown Diamond.

Less than 1 percent of the independent distributors who sell essential oils and related products through the Utah-based multilevel-marketing company Young Living reach that top ranking. Those who have net an average annual income of $1.5 million and resemble celebrities within the organization, counting tens of thousands of followers on social media. Their success sometimes even allows them to charge for access to advice on how to become more like them--a private Facebook group for business coaching from Schrandt costs $10 a month, and the cheapest single ticket for a recent "Diamond Bound" conference she hosted in Dallas was $309.

On a Friday night in March, Schrandt shared a revelation on one of her Facebook pages. "I'm awake!" she announced. President Donald Trump would soon prove that he had been Q all along, she wrote, and this was just the beginning of a "spiritual war" in defense of all that is good. The post continued for hundreds of words about the evils of the mainstream media and the mythology of QAnon, which holds that Trump is a warrior taking on a global ring of Satan-worshipping pedophiles, who are also in cahoots with the "deep state," and tend to be Democratic politicians, Hollywood celebrities, or the owners of seemingly random small businesses. The post has since disappeared, but not before it went out to nearly 13,000 of Schrandt's Facebook followers--in her post she notes that she had already sent the information to "1,000 or so" of them privately. (Schrandt suggested that Facebook removed the post; Facebook declined to comment.)

The Concordia University researcher Marc-André Argentino has a name for people like Schrandt: "Pastel QAnon." These women--they are almost universally women--are doing the work of sanitizing QAnon, often pairing its least objectionable elements (Save the children!) with equally inoffensive imagery: Millennial-pink-and-gold color schemes, a winning smile. And many of them are members of multilevel-marketing organizations--a massive, under-examined sector of the American retail economy that is uniquely fertile ground for conspiracism. These are organizations built on foundational myths (that the establishment is keeping secrets from you, that you are on a hero's journey to enlightenment and wealth), charismatic leadership, and shameless, constant posting. The people at the top of them are enviable, rich, and gifted at wrapping everything that happens--in their personal lives, or in the world around them--into a grand narrative about how to become as happy as they are. In 2020, what's happening to them is dark and dangerous, but it looks gorgeous.

Over the summer, as networks of women on Instagram and Facebook stoked outrage over the Netflix debut of the French film Cuties, a movie about the exploitation and sexualization of young girls, Schrandt was among those who urged followers to cancel their Netflix accounts to avoid "supporting pedophilia." Conspiracy theories about the pandemic have also spread through these groups; Schrandt recently suggested that contact-tracing programs were a plot to turn the United States into a communist country, and on one of her Instagram accounts, which has 22,000 followers, she explained that masks were "about mind control." Distrust of the mainstream media and paranoia about the liberal bias of major internet companies are a common overtone in these circles as well--when telling her followers to watch ShadowGate, a misinformation-riddled "documentary" about a global plot against Trump, Schrandt was careful not to say the title outright, instead spelling it out via clues, and reminding followers to look for it on the alternative search platform DuckDuckGo instead of Google. 

America will be a better place when they go back to Tupperware, NASCAR & yoga.

Posted by at October 30, 2020 8:36 AM