Recently I wrote an article entitled, “Future Internet: Collaboration without loss of individuality: Example 1: Ebay”. Since then it has come to my attention that like all other areas of life the comedians and jokers have invaded and put their mark on this incredible new phenomenon. I am by no means against humour as I am a firm believer in the idea that laughter is the greatest medicine of all. If humanity just learned to laugh at ourselves a little bit more instead of taking everything in life so seriously, I think we could achieve both individual and social harmony much more quickly.
Certain eccentric as well as just plainly silly people have tried to sell anything from their own virginity (had to be a hoax) to the now infamous ‘ghost in a jar’. The ‘ghost in a jar’ sale was so popular that a whole slew of copycats have followed suit ranging from ‘ghost droppings’ to a ‘ghost in a bra’. The ‘What the heck’ site seems to have the most comprehensive list with items being categorised into: Fan favourites, People, Body parts and fluids, Animal Kingdom, Metaphysical Stuff, Face it you’re addicted to Ebay, Technology and accessories, Health and Beauty, Dirt, Water etc, Just plain evil, Gross, Weird inventions, and Stuff we’ve yet to categorise. One of my favourites is for the sale of Snow. Here’s what the seller had to say about the product:
“So far, we’ve got over a foot, and it’s still coming down. We really don’t need more than a few inches here, so we’re making the rest available to the highest bidder. Due to the perishable nature of snow, and because not even 4WD vehicles are having much luck on our local roads, the winning bidder must make arrangements for pickup. This snow doesn’t pack very well, so you’ll have to make your own packing arrangements as well. Note that I’m only offering the excess snow from our own property. If you need it, I may be able to arrange for you to get more. I’ll accept cash or money order for payment. If you clear a path from Interstate 40 to my house, I’ll discount your winning bid, charging only an amount equivalent to the eBay fee for the closing bid. Take our snow, please…”
I also laughed when I saw that drug-free urine, raccoon’s penis bones, the Internet (someone bid 1 billion dollars-it’s real worth would be priceless), nine used toothbrushes, dirt from the US civil War, a UFO Finder, a Russian sub (a real one!) and Absolutely Nothing were on sale. Here’s what the seller said about the latter:
“ABSOLUTELY NOTHING for sale, zero, zilch, nada. NO RESERVE on this vastly under appreciated commodity. Why suffer the disappointment of shelling out big bucks on junk you don’t want, can’t afford, and don’t need, when, for a small fee, you can completely bypass the disappointment! You expect nothing, and that’s precisely what you will get. I’m hoping I can build up a regular clientele for absolutely nothing, because finding nothing is much easier to acquire than most of the other items I sell. And shipping costs are minimal, because, well, nothing weighs nothing. And it’s very cheap for me to buy, as it costs me nothing. So forget about those Beamers, those houses in the suburbs, those electronic gadgets, those fashionable clothes that are outdated before you leave the store; THEY won’t bring you happiness, NOTHING will! The ancient Chinese Sage advised us that less is more. Therefore, NOTHING is most. Here is your chance to FINALLY get exactly what you’ve always deserved! Bid with confidence, because I guarantee NOTHING! Aren’t you weary of everyone whining that they can’t find NOTHING to buy? Well, here it is, ladies and gentlemen, step right up and mail me your dollars, I have an unlimited supply of what you really need most in your life, but were never quite sure how to acquire it. You could pay hundreds, thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars for the same thing from any one of a hundred political organizations, religious groups, or federally mandated taxing organizations, and not get one single thing that I’m not providing for a nominal fee of a $1.00 bid. And don’t despair if you get sniped out at the last minute this week, I’ll have a fresh supply available next week as well. Item is guaranteed to be exactly as described. California residents please add 8.25% sales tax.”
So, with every great step forward for humanity we have our tricksters helping us along with their great powers of humour. With eBay a new way of collaborative consumerism has entered the so-called ‘first world’ psyche. The question is: Where do we draw the line between supply and demand for what we need to have a sustainable existence, and buying for the sake of addiction to shopping? I recently heard of a new term coined Affluenza. It is the disease of always wanting more money and material objects even if it means having a lesser quality of life. Hey, someone has even sold the ‘Meaning of life’ on eBay for a mere $3.26!