Amazon Versus eBay


On December 31st, so many people said, “Goodbye, 2020!” with huge sighs of relief. It was as if somehow they anticipated the ball dropping would change everything.

Of course, not much actually changed in that moment other than the date on the calendar. (If only change were that easy!) And no surprise, because real change requires much more than a hope, a wish, or a sparkly ball dropping at the end of a year. 

True change requires reevaluating your mindset.

For example, we live in a world where when you want something, you can buy it on Amazon and get it in a matter of days. If that’s not good enough, you order a pizza and have it at your door in under 30 minutes. Groceries in 20 minutes. Lunch from practically any of your favorite restaurants delivered directly to your desk with the click of a button.

Convenience is king, right? Only… sometimes having such easy access isn’t such a good thing. The problem is that just because we can does not always mean we should.

Take the example of having lunch delivered. Having our food come to us may feel super efficient, but ordering in is also another excuse to not give ourselves a real lunch break. Instead of getting up, walking somewhere away from our desk, sitting down specifically to eat, and actually focusing on the act of eating, we end up just shoveling more food in our mouths while we continue to plow through emails.

When you’re operating on autopilot like this, it’s incredibly easy to react impulsively. I know I’m not the only one who’s ended up with items Amazon has “suggested” to me that I didn’t actually need, or at least not anytime soon. We are living in a world of more-more-more and faster-faster-faster, and Amazon has seriously influenced our expectation of convenience.

Sadly, though, it seems the quicker we speed through it all, the faster we lose interest. This leaves us in a vicious cycle of always wanting more… only to discover whatever we have or achieve is somehow not good enough or interesting enough to hold our attention. Faster and faster, we move on to the next thing (fidget spinners, anyone?). Things that were a must for us yesterday might not even be on the radar today, tomorrow, or ever again.

We need to slow down and think for ourselves, not knee-jerk react every time a new “must-have” item pops up in our online shopping suggestions.

How, you ask? Enter my 24-hour rule.

My 24-hour rule states that everything has to live in my cart on Amazon for 24 hours (or more) before I decide to buy it. After 24 hours, if I still need it or honestly believe that it will in some way help me fulfill my life’s work, then I allow myself to make the investment. But if it does not add to my purpose (yet another pair of yoga pants when I have a gazillion? Yes, these are extra soft… but it’s still a hard no) then I put it on my shopping list or wish list for later. 

Most of the time, I never get to that “later” list myself. Those things are really just wishes, after all. The fact that the things on this list linger is actually good news: When my mother-in- law asks me what I want for my birthday, I can quickly share a plethora of things that I wanted but which I deemed not essential to me saving the world. (P.S. As I type this, I am wearing those awesome yoga pants, which I recently got as a gift… happy birthday to me!)

With this one simple 24-hour rule, I’ve been able to turn possible impulse buys into a well-curated, time-saving wish list, perfect for sharing with family. Despite Amazon’s “buy all the things so you can have them right now” mindset and oh-so-thoughtful suggested items (perfectly designed to capitalize on the fears of missing out and not having enough), I have found a way to turn my own Amazon mindset into one of “wait and wish.”

In contrast with the more-more-more approach of Amazon, let’s shift gears for a minute and talk about another online selling platform, eBay. Founded way back in 1995 (right around the same time as Amazon), there was a ton of buzz around eBay for a while. Thanks to their upcycling, repurposing, and recycling platform, anyone could sell online to anyone. The collectibles market exploded, and eBay’s success has continued since.

Though there are now other online reselling platforms, like Facebook Marketplace, LetGo, OfferUp, and many more, I think eBay and its imitators are brilliant. Instead of creating waste, they allow things that hold less value for one person to serve a purpose in someone else’s life.

Of course, eBay is still out to make money, just like any other company, but the mindset here is far more value-based. When you buy on eBay, it’s not just about having or getting more. The seller who wanted to let go of the thing will be grateful, you will save money so you will be grateful, and, since it didn’t end up in a landfill and now gets a new home and a chance to continue to serve its purpose, maybe even the thing will be grateful (too far?).

Am I saying that you should never use Amazon again? No. I am offering you a chance to shift your mindset, to embrace the idea that you have enough, right now, to accomplish what you desire in your life. You don’t need anymore to make you good enough or make your efforts worthwhile. You are already valuable. Instead of following Amazon’s suggestions, I challenge you to practice the eBay mindset. Pause before you add more. Is whatever you are considering something you really need? Is the investment going to pay you back? Will it add to your purpose?

Don’t buy because you can. Buy because you are confident it is the very best way to fulfill your purpose and make the world a better place.

PS – Bonus online shopping reflection!

I find it interesting that inside almost every box shipped to me, there is an insane amount of space around my order, usually filled in with bubble packaging. Every time I open a box, I’m reminded just how important it is to make space for whatever new (or gently used thing) is coming into my life. The same is true when it comes to implementing a new tool or tactic or mindset. Whatever you are doing to change the world and whatever tools it takes for you to do that, you have to make space for it. Even Amazon understands the importance of space.

1 comment

Nancy Hempel

I have used Amazon for years with no problem. I just order a exercise bike from eBay and they sent me the wrong bike. I spent days trying to get ahold of eBay or the seller usa*, to no avail . They sent me a shipping label finally, but I think it is the wrong product. So I got PayPal involved. We’ll see how this works out. But I Will Never order from eBay again
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