Sunday, August 18, 2019

People who buy things on eBay, Craigslist, Facebook, etc.: Don't ghost people. Just don't.

As someone who sells items on these various platforms, I wanted to pass along some tips about ghosting people. Actually, one tip: Don't!

What is ghosting?

Ghosting, in this context, is when someone contacts someone to express interest in something, then stops communicating (or worse, makes an appointment and doesn't show.)

When buyers ghost sellers, the seller can feel annoyed or frustrated. "But Loco," you might ask, "why should I care about some stranger on Craigslist's feelings? I'm not responsible for their feelings!" Well no, I might respond, you're not, but if you can make someone feel respected and content with very little effort, and if not expending said effort can make them aggravated and wondering if something is wrong with them, why not just put forth the tiny bit of effort? Especially if we consider that the first of these community boards were created by a bunch of hippies and originated as a way to keep items out of the trash and help folks have affordable items. We should honor them by being neighborly.

Reasons people might ghost:
  • They got distracted and forgot to respond
  • They are worried they might make the person feel bad if they expressed interest and then changed their mind or realized the item is not for them
  • They lost access to the e-mail address/phone number/app they were using
  • They saw who was listing the item or where it was located and they don't wish to deal with someone of a particular demographic
Things people might think if they get ghosted:
  • I did something wrong
  • That person sure is rude
  • That person wasted my time
  • I wonder if that person saw who I am or where I live and decided they don't wish to deal with my demographic
Things people generally do not think of they get ghosted:
  • I'm so glad they didn't contact me and say they weren't interested. That would have hurt my feelings.
So, in short, if you decide something isn't for you once you've asked a question about it, or if your preferences or circumstances change, just write to the person and tell them you're sorry but you are no longer interested, and thank them for their time. If you can, let them know the size won't work or you had an emergency come up or whatever the case is, to allay the fears that they did something wrong or are themselves wrong. If you backed out of the interaction because something was awkward or felt fishy, generally refrain from giving this feedback, UNLESS they did or said something egregiously inappropriate, in which case it is appropriate to tell them you won't be completing the transaction because they hit on you, used blatantly offensive terminology, asked intrusive questions, or whatever the case may be.

Please especially refrain from ghosting with free items on Craigslist, Freecycle, Everything Free, Buy Nothing, and similar forums. Please do not think that the lack of financial consideration means that manners do not apply. I would argue that manners especially apply when someone is going to the trouble to list something and communicate with people about it while expecting nothing in return.

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