How do you place a value on something? I ask, because an off the cuff comment on Facebook provoked quite a heated discussion amongst my friends yesterday, much to my surprise.

I am running an Ebay auction of random items of clothing at the moment. Some are vintage pieces I picked up because they are beautiful but that I really have no use for. Others are items I will never wear again but which are in decent condition – like a monster of a green frock I wore to a friend’s wedding in the 1990’s which is now rather pleasingly 2 sizes too large for me (and which has lasted much longer than the actual marriage in question). I’m trying to generate enough cash to buy this corseted frock.

Then there’s this little dress:

Much furore over this little thing...?

Much furore over this little thing…?

It’s pretty, it’s in decent condition (mainly because I had major chest spillage on every unfortunate wear so it was relegated to a storage box pretty early on) – but it isn’t an expensive dress. I picked it up new for £10 from a chain store. So I bunged it on Ebay several months ago where it resolutely refused to sell. I only included it in this round of selling because it’s prom season, pricing it at a reasonable £3.50. Whereupon it still didn’t sell. Ebay trundled on and relisted it as it does and I was rather surprised to receive a query on it yesterday, which on reply prompted a buy it now offer of £15. FIFTEEN POUNDS!!! It was accompanied by a very nice message from a teenager who would like to secure it for prom, so made me this whopping offer.

Now I like the dress – I wouldn’t have bought it otherwise. But I know it isn’t worth that much money. And I was reared on John Hughes movies being a true child of the 80s. Pretty In Pink is engraved into my soul. We didn’t have proms in my day, but if we had I’d have been the skint, if slightly less popular red headed, UK counterpart to Molly Ringwald. I cannot in my bones fleece a teenager for what should be one of the best nights of their life. I told her she could have it for £5 plus postage and we are both happy.

I mention this transaction in passing on Facebook and all hell breaks out.  There’s the ‘oh you nice person’ camp and then there’s the virulent ‘oh you soft shite’ camp that informs me that all of today’s teenagers are loaded and that I should fleece her for as much as I possibly can, accompanied by several rather amusing insults at my expense and a discussion of how I should just call myself a charitable basket case… And these people call themselves my friends!

I’m no saint. I am after all selling the dress but I feel I got a decent contribution to the frock fund from this transaction. She goes away happy that she didn’t get ripped off. What I have found illuminating about the whole FB debacle is that the people calling me an idiot are people I generally knew as teenagers and went to school with.  They all fall into the bracket of those I knew who had parents prepared to bankroll their every whim. The more generously inclined souls fall into the same cash poor demographic as I did. Right now it’s 1:30am and insomnia is making ants do the fandango round my cranium and I am too tired to ponder the nuances of that or make sweeping generalisations about how we come to value the many transactions we make in life, other than to say for me – I would have been squirming with guilt selling something so overpriced.  Even with another £25 still to raise for my own dream frock, I made the right call.

BTA is tonight reading Cynan Jone’s brutally wonderful The Dig (which may be why she isn’t sleeping), and listening to Ayria and Bad Pollyanna whilst plotting what to sell next from the dress closet…


6 thoughts on “Value(s)

  1. Well, I guess I’m just another sap then, but you DID do the right thing… for both of you. You kept your personal integrity intact and followed your conscience, and she had a pleasant example fair dealing from a stranger, which will make her more likely to do the same with someone else in future. Shakespeare said it best in ‘Hamlet’: “This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”

    • Thank you. It really wasn’t worth what she offered. ‘Sap’ is a good word! I was called worse…! I’m rather enjoying selling stuff, my style is changing a bit as I get older and accept I can no longer really rock the girly look so much!

  2. I once saw a meme that went something like, “Pinterest makes you like people you’ve never met, whole Facebook makes you dislike people you’ve known for ages.” it’s sometimes, sadly, very true. I constantly notice rampant judgment on FB. Or misguided advice… I once even ended a post with “I’m not looking for advice, because I know only I can determine the solution to this situation. I just needed to vent and get support.” That post received more advice than any other!! It is frustrating, and I definitely sympathize. But YES, you did the right thing! Kindness like that towards strangers is beautiful!

    • People become instant critics. I’m quite choosy about friends on FB, they have to be people I know, like and generally respect (and the odd family member!). I recently had to unfriend an old uni friend who has become exceptionally bitter and derogatory, accusing me of being vapid & stupid all because I updated a pic of me in a new blouse. He told me I should have ‘grown out of’ goth by now and went off on a rant about how I was a right wing Daily Mail reading hypocrite (DM is a right wing ‘newspaper’ in the UK – a deadly insult in certain circles!!!). He’d been steadily ramping up the insults for months, based on his stupendous intelligence (he has 3 degrees – so do I, which he didn’t believe). He’d also started posting quite vile rants about the English (he’s Scottish) in the run up to the Scottish Independence referendum. I eventually called him out on it, as one or two other friends had messaged me privately to ask why I was letting him getting away with it – well, he has cancer so I gave him some leeway as he was going through an awful time. But he ended up insulting my looks, my culture, my beliefs and my intelligence – all to prove a point. He was never like this in college, he was a warm, friendly, generous man. I had to unfriend him, at which point he threw a massive tantrum and has cut off all contact with all ex-uni friends.

      And he’s a teacher…

      • That is SO sad. Unfortunately, sometimes hardships bring out the worst in people rather than the best; they turn inward and bitter, blaming life for not being fair to them, and lash out at everyone around them. I can’t blame them for being angry, but like you, I would be willing to tolerate that kind of behavior only so far. Hopefully your friend will eventually find his way through the dark.

      • I hope he does, he’d had an awful time and seemed to be lost in a very dark place. I felt crap for unfriending him, and he seemed really shocked that I did. When he suspended his account I did ask another mutual friend to check on him but he’s just gone into a vacuum somewhere. 😦

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