Okay, so there's no hand waving and fast talking gibberish nor final whack of the auctioneer's gavel, but the cyberthrill of bidding on Ebay is still there.
Ebay has been around since fall of 1995, borne out of the desire to collect Pez dispensers. Such a simple off-handed thought, a muse in the morning...and behold the world's next millionaire is created.
I seem to sleep through my muses, much to the chagrin of my wallet.
To their credit, Ebay's founders didn't simply sit on their growing bank accounts, they created a foundation to provide grants, a medium for others to ask for help on their 'giving board' and the invitation for charity auctions. Worthwhile stuff, noble efforts, not to mention tax deductions and advertising.
But the heart of the operation is you and I...the growing numbers who have discovered the newest way to attend a flea market/yard sale from the comfort of your swiveling desk chair.
With about two million items on sale at any given time, there's something you want, need, GOT TO HAVE right now I guarantee you. There exists great pleasure in merely perusing the lists to see what others will sell, and what people will buy...everything from empty boxes to property in Norway, from tickets and trips to junk to automobiles and furniture.
If it's been "as seen on tv", if it's a collectible...can you say "beanie baby", if it's cluttering up someone's closet/garage/attic, if it's made of cloth, china, wood, plastic, metal, paper or air it's on there.
There are ill effects of Ebay, however...it's as easy as in a live auction to become caught up in the fevered bidding, to overpay for something. You try so hard, you caution yourself, "I'm not going higher than $20", then darned if someone doesn't come along and bid $20.50. So, you explain to your inner frugalness that "what's another dollar?", and bid $21.00. Immediately you are outbid to the tune of $21.50. You get pissed. It's yours, you saw it first and you WILL have it. Fifteen minutes later your satisfied smirk turns to 'what have I done?' as you become the proud owner of a set of kitchen knives at twice the cost from a local department store. "Heck", you tell yourself, "I'm saving the drive there"...and so it goes.
Personally it's made me paranoid. My everyday toss em around bake em micro em let the dog lick em dishes are by Pfaltzgraff® and the pattern is discontinued. On Ebay they are worth a small fortune. I alternate between trying to collect some pieces and thinking of selling the lot of mine and buying a desert island someplace (probably can find it on Ebay). But my knees now shake and my palms get sweaty when I carry the food from kitchen to dining room, each crack, each craze, each potential breakage could dwindle my future riches.
And of course, as with everything...someone has discovered a way to 'beat the system'...using 'sniping' software. This bane of the decent bidder automatically dials in during the last few minutes of the auction. You sit there on the edge of your seat, reloading the page, confident in your gain, seeing your name as high bidder, as each reload knocks seconds off the ending time. Finally 'bidding is closed for this item'...and you sit back with gaping maw in shock. You were outbid in the last five seconds. Sniping does this, bids in increments automatically, faster than you could even hope to type...you have no idea what hit you. I've been there, done that, and NOT won the T shirt.
Despite it all, it's fun.
It can be addicting, it can get expensive. It's easy to see that sometimes people must have more money than brains and it's very difficult not to become one of them. I predict the advent of Ebay Anonymous with 12 bids toward recovery from ebayaholism. Of course bid one would be to rid yourself of the garage full of things you've bought. And where else but on Ebay?
Ah yes, it's another attraction, another distraction, a simple transaction.
Yet we are amazed to see the pot you couldn't sell at your yard sale marked down to a dollar fetch $50 before your eyes. And you didn't have to get up at the crack of dawn, hauling out tables through the dew soaked grass and haggle, yawning and smiling for those hard earned nickels and dimes. You don't have to feel guilty for charging a fair price for Grandma's old teapot...you can put it on Ebay and people will beg you to accept ten times as much.
Once again the internet has redefined our daily life.
One bid at a time...