The “Burning Man” fiasco highlights the ultimate tech/culture battle
Last Updated on October 10, 2023 by Joseph Gut – thasso
October 08, 2023 – I discovered this article on September 05, 2023, in WIRED and reproduced it here without much editing. The article consciously or subconsciously shows the increasing disunity of today’s society in many things, especially in communication.
“LIGHT WEIGHTS”. That was the response when Diplo posted a video of him, Chris Rock and several others escaping this year’s Burning Man after heavy rains stranded thousands of other burners and made it impossible to leave the site for a few days. It was a small thing, but it also expressed the growing divide between long-term attendees and those who showed up in the Nevada desert in anticipation of a week-long Coachella event.
Can Burning Man break out of its climate death spiral? Old-timers tend to enjoy the chaos, says Eddie Codel, a San Francisco-based videographer who called Diplo and Rock lightweights on X, the social network formerly known as Twitter. “It allows us to get a little more involved in the principle of radical independence.” Codel is on his 15th burn, coming since 1997, and Diplo wasn’t the only escaped burner he called out. When someone else posted a video of RVs stuck in the wet sand, he posted: “You have een warned.”
It has always been like this. Burning Man may have started as a gathering of counterculture types from San Francisco, but in recent years it has become a gathering place for tech bros, celebrities and influencers, many of whom fly in and spend the sweltering days of the event in RVs or planes, as well in air-conditioned tents powered by generators. The “Playa,” as it is called, is still orchestrated by the Burning Man Organization, also known as “the Org,” and its core principles of giving, self-reliance, decommodification (no commercial sponsors) remain.
But increasingly, Burning Man’s “leave no trace” principle is encountering growing piles of rubble scattered across the desert after the bacchanal, capable of attracting more than 70,000 people each year. It’s an ideological minefield, lying across a 4-square-mile semicircle of tents and dune-inspired art installations, each with a carbon footprint of two-thirds of a ton.
Much of this came to a head before rain turned the Black Rock Desert into a freshly spun clay bowl. Last week, as festival-goers headed to Black Rock City, activists from groups such as Rave Revolution, Extinction Rebellion and Scientist Rebellion tried to deny them entry, demanding that no private jets, single-use plastic items and unlimited generator and propane be allowed at the event use. They were greeted by participants saying they could “go fuck themselves” and eventually the protest was broken up by Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribal Police (the route to the event passes through the Pyramid Lake Paiute Reservation).
As news of the rain-trapped Burners began to spread last Sunday, the reactions became increasingly clear. In a popular TikTok that has since been deleted, Alex Pearlman, who posts under the username @pearlmania500, criticized Burners for contributing to climate change by “building a temporary city in the middle of nowhere while we’re in the middle of a damn homeless problem.” without accommodation”. Reached via email, Pearlman said TikTok had removed the video, claiming it had been mass-reported for content violations. The creator objected to it and it was reinstated – then it was removed again. “My reaction was, ‘I guess the community policy enforcement manager took Diplo and Chris Rock out of Burning Man,'” Pearlman says.
Something like this – a rant about tech guys at Burning Man, posted on a social media site and then shared on other social media sites – is essentially the problem, the irony of Burning Man 2023. For years, this was the event and is the playground of technology utopians, the place where they can switch off and further their education. Larry Page and Sergey Brin chose Eric Schmidt as CEO of Google, in part because of his credibility at Burner. But as mobile data on the playa has improved—in 2016, new cell towers connected the desert like never before—more real-time information about what’s happening has come out of Burning Man, for better or worse.
This year, that led to more than just a little bit of misinformation, says Matthew Reyes, who has volunteered to host Burning Man’s official live webcast since 2013. He wasn’t at the event this year, but was helping from his home near Dayton, Ohio. He says he has had to file multiple takedown requests under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to get fake Burning Man streams removed. This is part of a larger trend of misinformation being spread about the festival, such as the debunked rumor that there was an Ebola outbreak at the festival this year – one spread by Blue Check X users. The tools that participants so often use to share their adventures are now also the tools that make the event look like a swamp.
“Social media is all about money, about running custom ads or whatever the monetization scheme is,” Reyes says, adding that he believes online discourse has inflated what happened at this year’s event that there are often things going around that are just jokes Playa can be misunderstood on platforms. Reyes argues that many media outlets further distort the view of what is happening on the playa by saying:
For Reyes, what happened at this year’s Burning Man is actually proof that the festival’s principles have largely worked. People shared resources; they came out. And as Codel put it, he was “having the time of his life.” Climate change and Burning Man’s potential impact on it are part of a crisis unfolding around the world – although Michael Mann, a professor of environmental science at the University of Pennsylvania, told WIRED this week: “What happened at Burning Man deeply reflects that “Demonstrators who were shouted down by Burning Man just days earlier.” (Burning Man aims to be carbon negative by 2030, but some speculate the event will fall short of that goal.)
But even if the principles of Burning Man worked, that doesn’t mean they were always followed – like decommodification. Over Labor Day weekend, as Burning Man attendees were stuck in the dirt and unsure when they would get out, a TikToker posting under the username @burningmanfashion told his followers that their crew was safe and they ” “We had enough tuna for a week.” The camp’s structures had collapsed, but they would be fine. “The news says it’s pretty bad out here – it is,” she said. “Thank God we have a ModVan so we’re safe in it. Sorry about the plug, I know we’re not supposed to talk about commercial things, “i.e. reporting on what they think will rise to the top on the same social media platforms.”
Why am I publishing this article on thasso? Because the article wonderfully shows what we have experienced in the medical field in reporting on Covid-19 over the last few years. A limitless conflict in the media of facts and fakes and mutual accusations and intolerance. We at thasso find these social media developments and trends very problematic, if not life-treathening in very many cases. Unfortunately, they are a reality in the medical field of “Dying Man”.
Disclaimer: Images and/or videos (if any) in this blog may be copyrighted. All rights remain with the owner of such rights.