The mere idea that I could be ‘poked’ by some person I don’t recall from Grade 4 who wants to share his photos from his last company conference has me steering clear of MySpace and Facebook. It all feels too random, overexposed. (What’s the term for Internet-related agoraphobia?)
I’m as nosy as the next guy, but I’m not really interested in the family photos and everyday philosophies of virtual strangers as much as I like to lurk at their living environments, the stuff of their daily life. That’s how I often end up picking through the virtual flea market through the Vancouver Craig’s List. There’s something comforting about reading postings by fellow Vancouverites who use local references like “I’ll deliver it but only if it’s in East Van.”
For example, one day when I should have been making my column deadline, I was surfing the “household” section of the “for sale” category on Craig’s List, delightfully distracted by such headlines as: “office/computer chair — you wanna sit, I wanna get drunk.” To quote, with typos intact: “i will trade for a bottle of wine. i’ll have to be specific about the type of wine i want this time, because last time a traded for a bottle of wine, i was stuck with a bottle of cougar juice….” A suggested list of superior wines is offered. “if you’re too lazy to make the trip to the liquor store, you can give me $30 so i can pick my own up.”
I like to think a penny saved is a penny earned, but I also know time is money, so I have to wonder about the great lengths of time some people spend to sell a $1 item. How much can be said about two ice cube trays? Do we need multiple images offering different angles of one orphan grey card-table chair? Yet there it all is: detailed descriptions, measurements, both imperial and metric, small tributes to the clever design of, say, a plastic laundry basket. Then there’s the time spent fending off the rush of calls from ice-cube-tray shoppers….
In time-money terms, those sellers are in a minus position, but these humble transactions do produce something else of value, at least to me: the comfort of knowing the world isn’t going to hell in a handcart as long as we’re connecting through the little stuff.