Every once in a while, I click on “news of the wierd” type stories on HuffPo — you know, the kind of thing you usually find as filler in local papers. This morning, I clicked on a story with the headline “Man Alleges He Bought Safe with $26,000 In It on eBay“. I figured it would be a feel-good story about a guy who got lucky. I didn’t expect to click away shaking my head at the rampant stupidity of what appears to be the general population.In a nutshell: a guy who’s been selling stuff on eBay for 15 years sold a locked safe for $129. The buyer received the safe, then posted in the buyer’s feedback that he’d found more than $26,000 inside the safe when he got it opened. The seller, incensed, wrote to the buyer asking for a cut of the find. The seller refused, stating the seller’s own policy, which reads no returns, no exchanges, no money back. At that point, the story went public locally, with the seller calling himself “the stupidest man in the world” and complaining about the moral of the guy who wouldn’t share his good fortune. According to the latest update, the seller now says the buyer was playing a practical joke, and there really was no money in the safe.
But the story is not the story. The story is the comments that follow the story. These seem to fall into several different sentiments, every one of them cringe-worthy. They are:
- What a stupid buyer! He announced the find and now he has to pay taxes on it!
- The story is fake becase:
- who is stupid enough to sell a safe when they don’t know what’s in it? or
- who is stupid enough to buy a safe without the combination? or
- who is stupid enough to announce they found $26,000? or
- what kind of stupid joke is it to say you found money?
- Why is this news and why are you stupid enough to read it here instead of going to AOL and reading it there?
- Whoever wrote this story is really stupid because it’s poorly written, doesn’t stick to the point or talks about a stupid story
That’s a whole lot of stupid on display there — and every single one of them is reinforced by people saying “Yeah, that’s pretty stupid!”
Not a single one of them — at the time I read it anyway — had a single person responding with surprise, incredulity or even headshaking chagrin of the stupidity of the comment itself. All I can figure is that:
- The maojrity of people think its acceptable and even praiseworthy to evade paying taxes.
- Nobody understands the concept of calculated profit. i.e.: the safe, as is, is unusable and worthless, but it may contain something valuable. If I crack the safe open and there’s nothing in it, I destroy any value it may have. If I sell the safe unopened, I can recover my investment and make a little money.
- Nobody understands the concept of calculated risk or the allure of a mystery. These same people probably think nothing of plunking down $5 on a lottery ticket but somehow can’t see that paying $129 on the chance that there was something in the safe was worth it to this guy.
- People believe that it’s stupid to pay taxes, or put yourself in the position of paying taxes or being asked for loans by friends.
- Quite a few people think they have magical insight into what should be news and where people should be reading it.
- Everyone’s a hater, and a lot of the critics know nothing about what makes an interesting story.
And now, having spent close to an hour noting the stupid on display, I’ve added my own stupidity to the collection, because when you come right down to it, it’s pretty stupid to extrapolate widespread stupidity from a few pages of comments on one HuffPo story.