The Dark Side of Facebook Marketplace: confronting Racism Online- Part Two

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This is the second and final part of the blog, the previous one is here.

In a previous blog post, I shared my search for a low-cost laptop for night-time work in the bedroom. I explored several online marketplaces, including eBay and Gumtree, finally pausing at the Facebook Marketplace.

My search continues.  I have now shortlisted six potential sellers who are conveniently located within a 25–30-minute drive from my home.

Seller one:

I messaged this seller via profile one, inquiring whether the item was working correctly and requesting it to be collected.

No response.

Subsequently, I used profile two to send an identical message. The seller replied promptly,

“Hi sorry it is sold”.

I couldn’t help but speculate why the seller ignored my first message when they could have effortlessly responded using the same message.

Perhaps there were many queries sometimes, it isn’t possible to reply to each and every message.

One down, five left.

“Hi is this the actual photo of the laptop? I asked this seller, using profile one, if it is still available, can I collect it later today, please?

To my surprise, I got an instant response. Not only they had a very friendly and polite tone, but they also addressed me by my first name.

I found a laptop, untouched by a bunch of judgemental fingers, I thought. I had to get this one.

I arranged the pickup time with the seller. I was super excited to meet this person too. But unfortunately, the next day they sent a message saying they couldn’t meet up because of an unexpected work call.

Such a shame. I would have purchased from this person, definitely.

Then came Seller 3. I messaged this seller from profile one, as usual.

“Hi, is it available? The ad says it needs a battery, what is the model please”

No response.

Similar, but the shorter message from profile two:

“Oh hi, yes. The model is xxxxxx and you can buy it on eBay for £20” Along with two pictures of the laptop, one with the battery removed.

“Can I ask you a question?” I then asked. Still on profile two.

“Sure, fire it on” Came the reply.

“Why didn’t you respond to this message?” I asked, sending the screenshot of the question from profile one.

The seller almost exploded.

“You think that I am being racist for not replying? I receive hundreds of “Is it available” messages. I don’t respond to them…” And a few profanity-infused sentences.

“But I did ask you a question about the battery, you had time to send two pictures for this message, but none for the other one?” I asked, unaffected by his comments.

The seller wasn’t happy with this confrontation. He sent me a long message stating that it is up to him to decide whom to respond to and who not to, along with some more profanity before promptly blocking me.

Pro-tip to racists: If you want to choose whom to respond to, make sure to leave a few minutes gaps between two messages. Who knows, it could be the same person.

Halfway there.

Forth came the fourth seller.

“Hi, do you have any specs for this please, thank you, ” I said, via profile one.

No response

Time to fire up profile two.

“Hi, do you have any specs for this please”

“What kind of spec? I’ve not got a scooby about it” instant reply.

“It should be on the back” I replied promptly.

I got two pictures.

This time, I decided not to confront them and moved on to seller five. Initially, I got a positive response. But when I asked about the collection, I got a strange reply

“Sorry I need to install a new copy of Windows in it so maybe a few days”

The next day, the item was marked as sold.

It is time to move on to my final seller. I decided this to be the final one because it was taking too much of my time and to be honest, it was getting stressful.

I messaged from profile one and sent a virtual offer to show that I am genuinely interested. But I got a response “Just sold sorry”.

I really liked this laptop. Even though the response sounded genuine, I decided to send another message via profile two.

It wasn’t sold.

I did consider sending screenshots but then I decided not to. I continued the conversation and arranged a pickup.

When I went to pick the laptop up, I could notice some discomfort. The seller brought the laptop to the car and asked me to switch it on to test it. She then went home to get a piece of paper with her phone number in it- just in case.

I thanked her, without mentioning anything about profile one.

But she knew that was me.

So, here concludes my Saga after encountering ten (nine if I exclude the forgotten password one) marketplace sellers.

When I used my actual profile, three individuals made some lame excuses, three didn’t even bother to reply, and one ghosted me completely. Only 2 out of 9 responded professionally and in a friendly manner.

However, the response was way better when I used a profile with a “Western” name – I got a 100% response rate, with two even sending me pictures of the product.

I still hope this is not what I think it is.

Racism is a primitive concept that should not exist in the modern. It comes from the fear of the unknown, which has been around for a really long time. Even though we’ve made progress as a society, some people still think it’s okay to be racist.

The primary reason for this – Politicians and the Media. Politicians use fear to win support and the media makes things sound worse than they really are, and some people just spread fear and rumours for their personal benefit.

We have been separated from each other because of things like skin colour, where we come from, what we believe, what we eat and what our culture is. This is because politicians and the media want to sell the fear to us.  

From Brexit to the immigration bill, extreme nationalism to extremism, everything is fear fed to us by politicians for their own benefit.

A majority of media has to sell fear to survive. And we also subconsciously love it.  For example, nobody’s going to read a story about an immigrant buying food for the food bank, but if the very same person is caught shoplifting- it becomes hot cake.

Both Politicians and media know that racism is not just morally wrong but it also confines us to stay. But they also know that if we become fearless, they can’t control us. And this is their fear.

I hope the world to be kinder and more accepting, no matter what. We should celebrate our differences and treat each other with kindness and respect. Because at the end of the day, there is only one race- the human race.

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