I'm not a terribly competitive person. Generally speaking, 'winning' doesn't interest me. I don't mind if I win something, but equally I don't mind if I lose either.
Unless it's eBay. For some reason, eBay brings out the worst in me, in a couple of ways. Firstly: if I want to bid on a book – and it is usually a book, unsurprisingly – I'll almost always stay my hand until the last thirty seconds of an auction (unless I know I'm going to be away from a computer). This tactic has its pluses and minuses. On the plus side, if there are already bids on a book, it means I won't tip my hand to other bidders and thus drive up the price of the book. On the minus side, if my bid's too low, I won't have time to increase it. But all that aside, it has to be said that it's a fairly sneaky, even underhand way to go about things. And I'm not terribly proud of that behaviour. So there's that.
Anyway, most times it works out for me. If I'm interested in a book on eBay, I'll have already done my research online to see if there are any other copies out there on Amazon or AbeBooks. Those other books may not actually exist – they might have already been sold and the listing might not have been updated – but if there's enough copies around a certain price, it's a safe bet a few of them will be 'real' listings. So I'll know how high I want to go on eBay, and that's what I'll bid. And usually win.
Except when I don't. For example, I bid on a book at the weekend, employing my usual last-thirty-seconds tactic, and lost. Which leads me to the second thing about eBay that brings out the worst in me. On one level, not winning that book is fine. I know there are other copies on Amazon, for less than the book went for, and I'm actually happy for my rival bidder to have that book. But on another level, I lost an auction. So now in my summary of recent actions, under "Buy", I've got a glaring "Didn't win". (And thanks for that, eBay: I know I didn't win. I was watching the bloody auction. No need to taunt me.)
So why, when I don't ordinarily have a competitive bone in my body, does that bother me? Why do I care?