Since it’s Burning Man week, I’m assuming anyone reading this isn’t going to Black Rock City. But I suspect many of you might be feeling the pangs of missing out, since it seems like half the tech community packs up for the playa. Never fear, I’m here to make you feel better about staying home and perhaps even dispel any ideas you might have about going in the future.
I have many friends who go to Burning Man and for the past few years they’ve tried to recruit me. From the pictures I’ve seen, the art creations look amazing, and the fact that they can rally so many people to form a large temporary community in the middle of nowhere is certainly worthy of admiration. In short, I think there’s a lot to like and I understand the attraction. But I also think there are some really good reasons for staying home, and since all of the cult members, umm, I mean Burners are off in the desert and won’t be reading this, I figure it’s the perfect time to spell them out.
- I’m a big fan of air conditioning and running water. I absolutely love adventure but I’m a firm believer that adventure shouldn’t have to be uncomfortable. When people show me pictures of the playa, it always looks really hot and dusty. So the idea of spending a week out there without A/C and showers just sounds way too sticky for my taste.
- The pompous self righteousness surrounding the event makes me want to vomit. Below is a real comment taken off the Burning Man Facebook page. If I met this person in real life, I’m pretty sure I would have to be restrained from punching them in the face, both for their pretentiousness and for their bad grammar. “Whom never been”… “Crouded”… Seriously?
Those whom never been can’t understand what magical spell has been spun by building a tall wooden man in the middle of an Etch A Sketch Playa and that that magic is so powerful that it can draw so many to one of the bleakes places on the earth to spend 10 days in the baking August sun. . and whiteout dust storms. . .and port-a-potties that blow over in the wind. . just to see a it burn. To those without the imagination and or gumption , thanks for not coming; it’s getting a little crouded out there.”
- I don’t like to be hugged by strangers – especially when they’re sweaty and questionably clothed. Triple digit heat, possibly exposed genitalia, plus sand storms, minus showers, does not make for a good hugging environment.
- The thought of being stuck in the desert for a week having conversations about vortex energy and bullshit New Age spirituality scares the hell out of me. For example, I have a friend who came back from Burning Man a few years ago preaching all kinds of crap about living on a higher plane, and how the world is shackled to lies. Meanwhile, he refers to Burning Man as the one week a year that he is “home.” If he’s only “home” one week a year, doesn’t that mean he spends 51 weeks a year living an inauthentic life? Isn’t that the pinnacle of hypocrisy to claim he’s found enlightenment while continuing to live a life that he considers false 98 percent of the year? Yeah, spending a week in the desert debunking that kind of pseudo spiritual bullshit is not my idea of fun.
- Once the smankers started going, I figured it jumped the shark, just like how they’ve ruined SXSW, and seemingly every other large open event. On this last point, I feel bad for Burning Man. Even though it isn’t my cup of tea, I have great respect for the work that has gone into creating such a movement. To see it poisoned by smankers is just sad.
So if you’re reading this at home right now and not going to Burning Man, don’t feel bad. Turn on the A/C, take a shower, appreciate the humility around you, walk down the street certain that no sweaty strangers will hug you today, and read a book based on logic and not hypocritical new age bullshit. It’s a great week to stay home.
[Illustration by Hallie Bateman]