I’ve often thought about the concept of online communities. Of course, social medias can create this. At their core, they are made to connect people—though not all of these people have common interests. However, it’s not hard to find like-minded people through these platforms. I’ve made friends from Instagram purely based on similarities in our “aesthetics,” but this isn’t the norm. When thinking, “hmm, what online communities am I involved in?” I realized the main one—Buy, Sell, Trade apps.
Okay, I’m not gonna lie. Over the years, I may have accumulated a fair amount of clothing and shoes. And by fair, I mean a lot. I can’t help that my sense of style has been ever-changing, and only now has it begun to hit a plateau. So, there are a lot of things sitting around in my closets that haven’t been touched in years. BUT, just because I no longer am fond of these items does not decrease their monetary value or value to someone else. ONE LADY’S TRASH IS ANOTHER LADY’S TREASURE! Poshmark, an app dedicated to buying, selling, and trading, came about at the perfect time. I can now list my dumb things and other people are going to think they’re great! Who knows what someone else may be searching for.
It soon became obvious to me that there are certain ways of being on Poshmark. It’s not just about the clothing, but also about how you operate on this app. When surfing through items, it’s pretty much commonplace to comment the following few things:
Almost nobody is going to buy an item without FIRST inquiring if the person listing is willing to go lower on the price. And, if the price is low enough (or if the user is confident enough), they’ll propose a trade. Trades are almost always declined, as nobody who asks has something equal in value to what they’re asking to trade. It’s a very silly thing. Humphreys writes, “they share particular, identifiable social traits,” which I absolutely found to be true. The norms created on Poshmark are hard to miss.
If the user has added photos of their item without providing one of it being modeled, there will be someone asking, without a doubt, for the person to add a photo of the item being tried on. This is just the etiquette created on Poshmark. Once you’ve been using it for a bit, you understand these rules and participate the correct way on the app. There are even tips provided by the Poshmark makers on how to best get your item to sell.
Users can get quite desperate at times and add photos to their profile such as this:
When I wasn’t finding what I needed or wanted on Poshmark, I turned to another app: Depop. Depop is wild because it’s much more than Poshmark. Depop’s community REALLY focuses on the aesthetics of the photos. It’s pretty much impossible to sell your item if you don’t have beautiful or interesting photos to go along with it. The concept of deindividuation—”this sense of a mass of people acting as one entity”—that Humphreys discusses is largely at play. Additionally, Depop has a “popular” page that allows for browsing chosen items by Depop’s creators. Here, I have noticed a handful of users that are featured nearly every single day. As Humphreys says, “A sense of common identification and affiliation simply emerges from repeated communication with others over a span of time.” Once a Depop user has proved themselves (by having beautiful photos and successfully selling a few items), their ability to sell becomes consistent. A curated shop is created for the purpose of selling. One user in particular, internetgirl, has this down to a science:
Through this, trusted users are created, and other users look to them for guidance on how to sell and for purchasing. Honestly, I still am unsure on how to reach this level of popularity on Depop, but it seems like it is almost a full time job. Internetgirl is consistently adding new items, which means she is probably consistently searching for new items to sell. This is a level of dedication that most users cannot commit to, but it is appreciated by the community. Though friendship or conversation is not the main goal of these apps, they are creating a strange sense of community within people to act and participate in very particular ways.