At the end of the month I'm going through a big move, so over the past few weeks I've turned to Craigslist in an attempt to unload some of my possessions. Not wanting to waste anyones time, I donated nearly everything I owned to Goodwill, and then listed only high quality items: things like wooden furniture, gently used golf clubs, and newer electronics like an iPhone 5 and an iPad. I carefully described the items, using humor and sharing life details (ie, I'm moving away) so any potential buyer would have all the pertinent information needed to make a buying decision and would know a real person was selling it.
Within a few minutes, and continuing over the next few days, I was contacted by people who had seen the ads. So far so good right? Potential buyers contacting a seller looking for a mutually beneficial exchange. Except then it all went wrong, and what I anticipated to be series of easy interactions, quickly morphed into a time wasting cluster. In most cases, the people who contacted me were awful communicators and some people were just generally terrible.
Now, one could argue that the people of Craigslist have been behaving terribly for a long time. It's no secret that it's filled with heartless scalpers who buy up tickets in huge numbers only to flip them to fans at enormous profits. Scammers prey on Internet noobs with elaborate scams involving fake Paypal accounts, PO Boxes, and gift cards. And occasionally, something sinister -- like sex trafficking -- originates out of one of Craig's links. But while those people are certainly terrible, they are few and far between, and it's not what I'm talking about here. I'm talking about the seemingly huge pool of people willing to do annoying and disrespectful stuff. These people's behavior is less obviously appalling, but I think it's equally revealing to the dishonorable state of our society.
I guess I can grasp that some of the annoying things that happened to me -- like people emailing me repeatedly about things already clearly listed in the ads, or people half assed haggling with me after the deal was basically done: "Oh dude, I only have $50 on me, not $60, I'm sorry dude would you give it to me for $50?" -- might actually be an issue of perception and would not be irritating to everyone. What I cannot fathom, however, is how anyone could perceive standing someone up at the final moment, after hours or days of coordinating and planning, as an acceptable thing to do. How can just minutes before our meeting you back out and don't show up? How can you justify wasting someone else's time as something that is okay? And most importantly, how can there be so many people like you?
In all fairness, maybe these poor Craigslist interactions aren't going on all over the world. My sample size is limited to San Francisco, so this could be classic Bay Area balderdash -- behavior exhibited only by entitled techie trustifarians (trust fund street Rastas) -- but I have a sinking feeling in my gut that this kind of behavior is spreading. We are losing touch with the people around us and we are forgetting how to communicate with each other, which is ironic when exemplified on Craigslist: a website founded to promote community and designed to be a place where people could connect and help one another out.
People of Craigslist, can we please try a little harder to respect each other?