The Craigslist Story – Learning to Speak Millenial

Boomers and millennials have a very different experience. While boomers, myself included, were taught patience is a virtue, millenials were taught to access information rapidly. In a recent exchange on Craigslist, the millennial version of the Dewey Decimal system, my wife and I listed a car for sale. It had many miles but had been lovingly maintained by us, the sole owners. That said we felt that because of the high mileage we would offer the 18-year old Honda for $1,000. It had over 300,000 miles on it and the dealer where we bought our new car said it was worthless. So we posted it and within a few hours we had dozens of responses including a few that were over the asking price. So we set up some appointments for viewing the following morning. In the interim my wife received this message – now remember, the post hasn’t even been up for 24 hours yet. 

“Hi I’ve contacted you a few times. If it’s sold kindly take the post down.” 

So if this post had been up for days I could understand “Dean’s” response. And as a frequent Craiglist user I can attest to the shoddy habits some posters have. However the time and date of the post are right there to be viewed. So my wife, being somewhat offended by “Dean’s” impatience responded that the vehicle hadn’t even been posted for 24 hours and that due to the low price we had received 39 responses. His response to my wife’s very considerate and thorough email was, “You should seek help.”

So I guess in “Dean’s” world we should have sent out 39 responses in the order that they arrived and collate accordingly. I can’t even imagine the poor butt-hurt millennial’s anguish at having to click on a link more than once and not having received a response for almost an entire day. He might have even needed to get off the couch. 

And here’s my point. It’s so easy to be nasty when you’re an anonymous 0 and 1 floating about in the binary world that your responses, rather than civil, tend to be snarky. So “Dean” all I can say is I guess you won’t be buying our car. Darn that only leaves 38 and we will seek help to try and solve the mystery that is the great divide in Boomer v Millenial communication.

As an addendum to this little story of generational woe, the car has been sold. In all we had over 50 responses. My wife, being the courteous and professional person she is, took time to respond to all but two so they would know that the car had been sold. The two who didn’t get a response were “Dean the Bold” who I’m sure is busy baiting Republicans from his mom’s basement, and the guy who went by Helen. Yes, we were confused too, as Helen sounded for all the world to at least be Hal. Helen was clever enough to offer $1,200 dollars for the underpriced $1,000 dollar car, catapulting him (he was definitely a guy) to the first position above the other 50 plus respondents. He seemed, however, to be geographically challenged as he needed to be told not just the corner to meet on but a physical address which he apparently forgot and needed to be texted a second time. Then, after confirming his pole position in the race for our vehicle, Hal left us waiting in the cold until a half an hour after the time he set to view the car and then texted to tell us he was hung up at work and to sell the car to someone else. Confused? Yeah, me too. 

The good news is the second person to view the car was a delightful young man who was both polite and prompt. The sale went off without a hitch and another lesson in communication was learned. Well, off to the next. But wait…

So I thought the story was over. My wife was delighted by the number of people that thanked her for letting them know the car had been sold. A favorable outcome as our faith in humanity was being restored. But then late on the day we sold the car she received this response, “FUPOS”. So obviously I’m using the acronym but I’m fairly certain you get the gist. So now “Dean” and “Helen” seem so much more acceptable as I weigh the anger it must have taken “FUPOS” to be so enraged at not being the person chosen to buy our car that this was his or her response. Psychology aside, the statistical breakdown went something like this: out of 50 respondents  75% went on with their lives like nothing had happened; 20% were kind enough to thank us for letting them know the car had been sold; and 5% percent felt we needed to seek help or raged with righteous indignation. Oh, and Helen, er Hal, couldn’t figure out his own work schedule. So you may ask what did I learn from this little social exercise? 1.Most people move on. 2.Some take the time to thank you for being courteous and 3. A very select group of people are pissed when things don’t go their way no matter what you do. I choose to thank the 95% who showed humanity and not worry about the 5%. That way we’re all better off and I’m fine with those odds. We all need to move on. The end

*So as I often do after I write a piece I read and consider my own motivations. In reading this particular one I find that I exhibited traits of all three groups. I talked about restored faith in humanity to those who were kind – the 20%. I showed the 75% my desire to move on. And I fell to the level of the 5% by making fun of Hal, Dean and FOPUS. These are human flaws that we all exhibit. There is no moral high ground here. There is only the realization that the world would be a much happier place if I aspire to be in the 20% more often than the 5%. I write and I learn. 

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