So, eBay continues to evolve as the World’s Largest Group Therapy Meeting. Latest case in point: Some Australian lady is auctioning off her emotional baggage in the form of some other lady’s underpants …or at least a photograph of said underpants, as eBay does not allow the sale of used undergarments. And much like those adorable paring knives that bonus with your Ginsu, the winning bidder also receives a used, empty condom package, "size small."
See, yet-to-be identified (but soon-to-be immortalized) seller had her a man, and he done her wrong. In the auction post, "annastella007" tells the tale of, "a women who, after 22 years of marriage, found evidence that the soon-to-be ex-husband had had " 'The Tart' in their marital bed this very afternoon." The evidence of which the seller speaks are the black lace panties and the condom wrapper she’s auctioning now.
It’s a plot line best better suited to a "Law & Order" opening scene or a presidential campaign, but such sordid affairs are now de rigueur at the world’s largest garage sale. You don’t need to Google very far to figure out that angst auctions earn far more news coverage than actual cash. Still, it’s cheaper than paying a shrink (or hiring a hit man). And can you actually put a price on good old-timey spite? I foresee a day — brought on by the sinking economy, increased unemployment and universally lousy mental health coverage — when everyone turns to the auction site to work out their mean reds.
That one-eyed teddy bear that embodies your dad’s anger? Sell it! Remember that barrette you wore for three months after you cut your bangs when your boyfriend dumped you? Sell it! Angry with God? Grab that that grilled-cheese sandwich with the burnt image of Jesus in the bread and see how much you can get for that, too!
Apparently the good folks at eBay are all for you unloading your psychological drama via their venue. They have no problem with this grassroots redirection of the company’s original business model. (That’d be a platform for selling material goods, not emotional catharsis.)
"This is obviously very therapeutic for this woman and it must be a great channel for her views on cheating and the sanctity of marriage," said eBay spokes person Inessa Jackson in a quote from Australian news site Courier Mail.
Why shouldn’t eBay be all for it? It’s the only entity making serious money off these auctions of pain. Well, eBay and online casino GoldenPalace.com. eBay makes out in oodles of free advertising via all those wacky auction news stories. GoldenPalace.com makes out in oodles of free advertising via the notoriety it’s received buying wacky items on eBay — including $15,000 to a woman who agreed to tattoo the GoldenPalace.com on her forehead, and $28,000 for a toasted cheese sandwich graced by the image of the Virgin Mary.
(Disclaimer: Yes, I am aware that free publicity via wacky auction news coverage includes mine.)
If the actual sellers are looking to cash in, history shows they should take their pity party for pay elsewhere. Even well-publicized angst auctions aren’t proving to be big money-makers for the sellers. Earlier this summer, heartbroken hubby Ian Usher eBay’d his life in Australia — house and contents, a three-week shot at his job, and introduction to his friends. The auction closed at a measly $382,712 — far short of the minimum $480,000 Usher hoped to receive.
Frankly if "annastella007" is looking to get into the used panties game, she’s about a decade too late. Back in eBay’s early days, many a seller made a mint hocking unclean underpants as well as socks (stinky Gold-Toed executives did especially well) to bidders of highly specialized desires. Then came the crackdown on any underthings auctions of an obviously salacious nature. Now it’s all about thinly veiled codes.
"This item has been cleaned per eBay specifications," is the fetishist’s secret signal, generally followed by "send private e-mail for special requests ;)." Even then, eBay’s gotten pretty good at ferreting out such sales, and quickly axing them from the site, as "annastella007" quickly learned, according to her auction adendum: "IT SEEMS I HAD VIOLATED EBAY'S SECONDHAND CLOTHES POLICY BY OFFERING 'THE TART'S' (HER NAME'S KYLIE i HAVE SINCE FOUND OUT) ACTUAL KNICKERS UP FOR AUCTION PREVIOUSLY I CAN ONLY NOW OFFER A PHOTO OF THE SAID KNICKERS AND HAVE ADJUSTED THE STARTING PRICE ACCORDINGLY."
As of this writing, bidding is up to $125, a lot more than the 99 cents "annastella007" stated she thought was a bit steep. This scorned woman isn't looking for a way to make money. She's using it as a broadcast medium to spite her husband. It'll be interesting to see if anyone else perverts her purpose by fetishizing her pain. If someone actually ponies up after winning her picture of some other woman's underwear, and it’s not GoldenPalace.com, it’s got to be for his or her own titillation, no matter what the winner claims.
So there you go. You now have the open opportunity to communicate with the world at large about any old thing, as long as you have something to sell. It won’t be long until eBay morphs into some kind of junk-filled LiveJournal, with "Munsters" lunch boxes, "Odd Couple" board games and bulk floor mats forever lost among the daddy issues, wronged spouses and that good old catch-all, Pitifulitis. That’s swell for those who experience headaches, nausea or anhedonia associated with serotonin reuptake inhibitors, I suppose. But you know, sometimes you just want to buy stuff.