Buy, Sell, Trade, Sell, Sell, Sell.

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.

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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:

lower?

trade?

try on?

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:m_55ba8beb519f3a489f005a27.jpg

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:

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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.

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5 thoughts on “Buy, Sell, Trade, Sell, Sell, Sell.

  1. The “sense of a mass of people acting as one entity” is the same on many other platforms as well. It’s interesting that you did not choose one of the main social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter etc. to exemplify your point. Though deindividuation exists on these platforms, it is much more exacerbated on a platform that has a more narrow audience. For example, you could call a hashtag an example of deindividuation as it only becomes trending when many people are using it, but they may be taking completely different stances on the hashtag. On a more segmented platform like Depop, the users are acting much more similarly. I use Yelp actively, and many Yelp reviews seem to have the same voice, focusing on details of the food, service, and atmosphere. Though people have drastically different personalities, Yelp users all have an interest in food or restaurants if they are taking the time to make reviews, so they all conform to similar voices that serve to give a clear, detailed opinion of restaurants and businesses in contrast to a tweet or Facebook post complaining or praising a business/restaurant.

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  2. I’ve never heard of Poshmark or Depop but they sound like perfect examples of virtual communities and the concept of deindividuation. As I was reading your post and about the online communities you described, I kept thinking of the popular “BBG” community, created by Kayla Itsines, that revolves around those who utilize her meal planning and workout app. I am not a member nor have I used her app but the presence of the community is impossible to ignore across a variety of social media platforms. The hashtag #bbg has become a way to connect with others also using the app and conquering their own fitness goals. I would consider myself a lurker of this community simply because of my fascination with it; the majority of the members leave supporting comments and engage in conversations with others simply within the comments section of Kayla Itsines personal Instagram account. Also, those who use the hashtag will find themselves with an increase in followers and numerous encouraging comments from complete strangers also using the app. There is a strong presence of deindividuation for those within this community all post very similar workout experiences or images of their thought-out meals; they all leave very similar and compassionate comments on others’ posts as well. It is one of the most connected and supportive fitness trends I have seen, and it all comes from a virtual community such as the ones you were describing! It is interesting to see how these virtual communities grow, and I’m curious if they are beginning to make people feel more connected and comfortable than in-person membership meetings for groups.

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  3. I think it is interesting how online shopping has evolved! From people posting things on websites like Craigslist, to specific apps curated to sell certain types of items is a really cool thing to see. I know that for some people also use the app “Wish” to sell items–in a makeup group on Facebook (where I am a member) I see a lot of women purchasing makeup from Wish. I also think it is interesting how Facebook now has an area called “Marketplace” where people can list things for sale to people nearby. In a few different spots in Pittsburgh there are some upscale secondhand stores where people can buy secondhand designer apparel and accessories–I am curious to see how those types of business compete with these upcoming apps!

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  4. LOVE LOVE LOVED this post. Honestly. Truly. I am actually obsessed with clothes (I too have Poshmark) but Depop…. that is just something that I never even heard of that. You really described this resell site really well though because of course I had to go and look at it after reading this post. What I found interesting about this site that you didn’t say in your post was that Depop is very similar to Instagram (or I at least think that). It really reminds me of a lot of fashion bloggers IG’s because those bloggers are so into how they pose, what they are wearing, etc. very aesthetically pleasing. What was even more interesting is that through a resell page you still have your own identity. I know my Poshmark is very put together and concise. Shows the type of person I am. Above all very good read. Can’t wait to shop on Depop !

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  5. I love your remark on how online communities are formed even when the initial purpose of the site may not be for social interaction. I’ve noticed deindividualism on websites like Youtube where a language and etiquette forms between users (PM = personal message, etc.) and where connections increase possibilities for collaborations of videos. Depop and Youtube share a similar idea that users must “prove themselves” worthy of subscribers with dedicated and visually pleasing, consistent content. Youtube’s purpose is for the creation and sharing of video content, but communities form around common identification of interests along with participatory comments. For sites such as Youtube, hundreds of communities may exist because of all the possible content. However, how a user portrays themselves and edits their videos determines their following. Youtubers may also get paid by Youtube based upon their popularity. Just as anyone can post a clothing item for sale like on Postmark or Depop, anyone can post a video on Youtube. It is the communities and popularity of a user’s image that determines the success of that user.

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