In a time when America’s economy and sense of community were crumbling, one guy left everything behind – to see if he could survive solely on the support of the 21st century’s new town square: Craigslist.
As of recent, the United States found itself in one of the most precarious financial meltdowns in modern history. News programs spoke of the worst economy since the great depression and demise of the American Dream. Unemployment was soaring and millions were losing their homes. Rather than banding together and helping one another, people started pointing fingers and casting blame. Many feared the sense of community that had once carried us through tough times had dissolved into an attitude of ‘every person for himself.’ Many were skeptical that today’s self-involved society would be able to weather the storm without its traditional social supports.
It was in this climate that 29-year-old Joseph Garner cut himself off from everyone he knew and everything he owned, to embark on a bold adventure. Armed with only a laptop, cell phone, toothbrush, and the clothes on his back – alongside the hope that community was not gone but just had shifted – Joe lived for a month looking for alms in America’s new town square: Craigslist. For 31 December days and nights, everything in his life would come from the Craigslist website. From transportation to food, from shelter to companionship, Joe would depend on the generosity of people who had never seen him and whose sole connection to him was a giant virtual swap meet.
Would America help Joe? Could he survive with nothing, apart from the goodwill of others?
Through his explorations, Joe gained insights into our collective psyche, and took the pulse of an anxious nation teetering on a knife’s edge of hope and uncertainty. Joe encountered a diversity of unique stories that reveal the layered mosaic of our national identity. He observes some of the most challenging issues facing our country today – from new economic realities to the continued reconstruction of New Orleans to the effect of America’s presence in Iraq. His experiences raise profound questions about who we are as a society and where we are headed, leaving you to draw your own conclusions.