Beliefnet
Everyday Ethics

Raise your hand if you’re familiar with Craigslist.org.  Chances are, there’s one that serves your community.  And it’s extremely handy for job listings, housing, dating, selling your old crap or buying new old crap.

Really, it’s ingenious. 
But why’s it also so darn discouraging?  As great as it is for selling your car or finding a roommate, it’s also astonishingly chock-full of scam artists, sleaze balls and assorted other unsavory elements – from the criminal to the just plain kinky.
Honestly, what Craigslist says about us humans as a whole really makes me shake my head. Take just a few moments to peruse the ‘services’ offered or the ‘casual encounters’ section, and your eyes may pop. Tales also abound of robbery schemes set up through the site, rip-offs, hook-ups, prostitution and etc.  The bigotry, ignorance, and, heck, just generally appalling grammar casually displayed on some of the discussion forums (like ‘rants and raves’) will make you want to flee to Timbuktu and change your name – unless they’ve already got a branch there too.  (So far as I know, CL hasn’t spread to Mali yet.)
In my own experience buying and selling stuff, I’ve seen just how thoughtlessly people behave toward one another when their only connection is through the internet.  I discussed this issue before in my post about blog commenting courtesy, but I believe it bears another mention.
Let me give an example: 

I’ve sold a few pieces of furniture through the site.  I’ve bought a couple too.  Sometimes my experiences were just fine. People were who they said they were and their items for sale were as described.  But I’ve also had several scam artists approach me, as well as receiving more rude, abrupt, garbled emails than I imagined possible.  Several people have made appointments to view items for sale, and then simply not shown up, not called, and not emailed to explain why they left me waiting all day long when I could have been out and about.
And the dating horror stories my friends have told!  Oy.  The less said about these experiences, the better.
So I’m just wondering… does Craigslist really represent our true natures?  If it does, I’m really, really saddened.
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