The idea that technology is driving people away from each other is at the heart of Joseph Garner’s documentary, Craigslist Joe. Instead of exploring the reasons behind this, Garner does almost the complete opposite. Using the very same technology that may be isolating us from each other, he decides to leave his house and use only Craigslist to survive for one month. With only the clothes on his back, a laptop, a brand new cell phone, and no money, Garner hopes he will find the sense of community that seems to be disappearing from our society.
While things start out a little challenging for Joe, it doesn’t take too long before the kindness of strangers starts to work out for him. It’s a little surprising to see how willing some people are to help someone they’ve never met. Joe finds places to sleep, food to eat, rides across the country, and someone even lends him their extra bike. The idea could stop there and it would still be an interesting and inspiring film, but Joe goes one step further. As he travels across the country, he tries to volunteer his own time as much as possible. The entire film is like an instant karmic exchange. For each person that helps Joe, it seems like he’s helping someone else, and that’s what makes this film truly special.
Joe spends time handing out food to the homeless, organizing a small toy drive, and even volunteering his time as a tutor. He’s not just looking for that sense of community, Joe is helping to build it as he travels, and he covers quite the distance. Starting in California, he travels up the west coast, reaching Seattle. He then makes the trip all the way to the east coast, winding up in New York, before heading down to Florida and back to California. He pulls this off without one penny in his pocket.
Some of the people he encounters are a bit eccentric, but they all share one thing and that’s a kindness towards their fellow men and women. The film manages to show us that there are still people out there who can respect anyone, no matter where they come from or who they are. It also shows the importance of giving back. If we want society to truly be a global community, then we have to play our own part.
Joe’s journey is inspiring. In a time where it can be hard to understand that there are still people out there who are willing to help, Craigslist Joe reassures us that there is kindness in the world. Extending that a bit further, viewers can see how technology can actually be used to bring us together. The end result is that it all depends on us. We can get lost in the world that is at our fingertips, causing a breakdown in the relationships around us, or we can use it to experience life to the fullest, beginning new adventures and friendships.