Wednesday, January 9, 2013
The Craigslist Couchsurfer
I recently watched Craigslist Joe. It's about a guy named Joe (go figure) who goes out into the world seeing if he can live life for 30 days completely off the generosity of people on craigslist. His purpose in doing so is to prove that America hasn't lost its sense of community. Apparently the reason we've lost it is social networking and technology.
He does it. He loses a ton of weight. Only goes without shelter for one night out of the thirty. But he does it. He meets a ton of interesting people along the way and ends up traveling across the country and back. It's pretty interesting.
But there's two things that poke at me a little bit. The first is the entire concept that we lack a sense of community within our culture. I think people want to do good things for each other. I think people do good things for each other. I think they may even use the internet to facilitate doing those good things. I think if you're apt to sit on your couch and do nothing, you'll probably do that with or without twitter. If you like to socialize with real people, you'll probably use facebook to set up an event and go out somewhere. I'm sure there's nuances and psychoses I'm overlooking, but I think the real problem with travelling across the country with no money and relying on the kindness of strangers off craigslist is this: CREEPERS. I'd never, ever let this guy into my home. Because he's some dude I met off craigslist and that's just not safe. I wouldn't drive him anywhere either. If he needed food or something, I'd help him. But I'm not on craigslist looking for people to give food to, so I'd probably never even know. It's not a lack of community that the internet creates; it's a lack of security.
The other problem I had was that this guy wasn't doing anything brand new to me. I've known people that have traveled extensively on very little money. I know people who make a lot of money by writing about their travels. There's entire websites and communities dedicated to this type of lifestyle. So while it was interesting to watch someone's personal journey for thirty days, it wasn't anything life shattering.
Would you let Craigslist Joe crash on your couch?