Jae Riley Pickman-Thoon: Living on Craigslist?

Image representing Craigslist as depicted in C...

Image via CrunchBase

On Tuesday, we began Joseph Garner’s “Craigslist Joe”[http://www.craigslistjoe.com], a documentary that follows the adventures of a young man attempting to live entirely off craigslist, for one month.  We watched him cut ties and say goodbye to his loving family and friends, ready to embark on the journey with nothing but his camera guy (who he met on craigslist a week prior), a phone (with a new number, so his friends couldn’t check how he’s doing), a toothbrush, the clothes on his back, a backpack, and of course, a laptop with internet connection to reach craigslist.

The first day, he is barely finding any relevant posts and experiencing little success in correctly pursuing them, but he eventually meets someone who is willing to let him spend the night.  Over the next few days, he meets a variety of strangers willing to help him, from the self-proclaimed rocker looking for a buddy to jam with to the volkswagen-van-driving hippie to the middle-eastern family that is looked down upon in the community due the the events of 9-11 to the eclectic Portland art collector to the  the teenage boy willing to let Joe borrow his bike for the month.  What this movie really succeeded in illustrating was how connected people are through social media.  Joe had to find food, shelter, transportation- everything that we need to survive- via craigslist.  People were posting at all hours of the day about everything from looking for someone to check out our art to looking for some company on a long road trip- you name it, and it’s on craigslist.  People from all different cities and states, from all over the world and from all different backgrounds and walks of life. Throughout the movie, I began to realize more and more that the website is truly a community, providing a place for people to express themselves and request the help of others.  What I found most surprising were craigslist users’ ability and willingness to help.  It seemed that although some posts did not always lead to success, the posts he did follow through with led him down an amazing path to really sincere, genuine people with interesting stories and extreme generosity, for which craigslist Joe was very grateful and touched by.  Maybe, the film suggests, that we have not in fact “lost the sense of community that used to carry us through tough times”.

Check out the trailer at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-Z-BsTa8A4

Curious about what craigslist users are up to near you? Find out at: http://www.craigslist.org/about/sites

Enjoy this post? Read more about my thoughts on Craigslist Joe after we finish screening the film tomorrow, May 19, at: https://twitter.com/chapter1begins

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