Burning Man, the annual hippy-ish festival in a temporary city erected in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada which ends with the symbolic burning of ‘the Man’, is back again for another year – it’s 32nd, running this year until 3 September – and it’s core values are AT RISK, BESIEGED, by the PLAGUE of actually pretty good mobile phone reception.
Ya-huh, apparently, according to one veteran ‘Burner’ Tiffani Morris, quoted in SFGATE, mobile reception has gone from zero service in 2003, to “hardly useable” in 2008, to “good, too good” in 2018.
But that’s supposed to be a good thing, right? We like to be able to call our mums anywhere anytime, yeah?
Not at Burning Man! Sacred, sacred Burning Man!
Some Burners say using your mobile at the festival conflicts with the ten fundamental principles of Burning Man, especially ‘Participation’ and ‘Immediacy’.
One Burner, Kenneth Clemmer, sums up their concerns: “You are simply not present with what’s around you, and you’re also yanking your immediate neighbours back into default world, possibly against their wishes.”
Burners told SFGATE they’d seen people FaceTiming during the ceremonial burning of their wooden effigy ‘Man’ on the final night of the festival, and kids playing Pokémon GO. Disgraceful.
It’s an issue that goes right back to wider concerns about the changing of the Burning Man guard from a pack of horny hippies in the ‘Orgy Dome’ to Silicon Valley tech entrepreneurs – who for their part argue that staying connected in an online sense is necessary for a myriad of reasons, including family and work responsibilities, and for law enforcement.
But it’s looking like an issue that’s set to continue. Sure major cell networks may clog up as more and more people head to the temporary Black Rock City – more than 70,000 of ’em – but there’s a new company in town trying to make sure attendees don’t need to cut themselves off from Twitter and Instagram. Nope, they’re selling internet hubs to attendees calling BurningFi, “the 4G LTE wireless internet provider with better coverage on the Playa“.
Gotta get back to the good ol’ days of Burning Man imho:
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Image: Burning Man / Andrew Wyatt