Tonight I listed some fabric I wanted to get rid of on Craigslist. A few years ago, I happened into a large box of free fabric scraps as part of my dealings with an eccentric man who was selling all his robin's egg blue furniture on Craigslist. (I know I have used the word "eccentric" to describe Austin characters recently twice now, but I feel I would be doing an injustice not to use that word. He painted his furniture - and his apartment - that color because it was his "power color.") I got a rocking chair, a cork bulletin board and whatever was on it, a rug I really loved involving robin's egg blue, and as this man was an obsessive and persistent collector of stuff (he told me he was anti-minimalist and had furniture hanging from the ceiling) he handed me this box of fabric scraps he had picked up somewhere.
Tonight I decided, in order to save an upstairs room from chaos, I needed to give away some of the fabric. So I listed it on Craigslist for free. Within 45 minutes, it was gone - destined for use in an afterschool program. The fabric would have had four owners now, via Craigslist. As I stepped outside to see that it was being picked up, I thought about how great Craigslist is. Not only had this fabric cleansing been an easy and painless process, I still treasure my memories of that strange, strange man. And, most of my furniture is from Craigslist.
Then I had the sudden thought: Craigslist killed the newspapers.
But I never would have made a classified ad to get rid of my fabric.
But I do value local journalism and jobs.
I asked myself: Would I rather give up my easy and interesting Craigslisting, or the livelihood of local newspapers?
I decided it was an impossible question.
Even if a guy named Craig hadn't started a free classifieds service, surely, something else would have burst a hole in the "dinosaur" of newspapers. You can't even really point a finger at Craig. Craigslist is a symptom. A symptom of the new nature of information. It wants to be free. My fabric wants to be free. Change, it's inevitable. Subsequent cliched justification. Being paid to create media is dying, regardless.
Craigslist makes me really happy, and really sad.