Don’t believe the press about Burning Man, attendees are praising their 2023 experience [OP/ED]
Following a late summer rainstorm that engulfed the Black Rock City area—bringing two months’ worth of rainfall in a period of two days—tens of thousands of Burning Man attendees were reportedly stranded in the Nevada desert. Several attempted the exodus only to have their cars become stuck in massive mud pits, some forced to hitchhike over 18 hours into town. After Burning Man issued a “shelter in place” order for the 70K burners on the playa, primitive campers became refugees to be rescued by their RV-dwelling neighbors.
Through it all, the media had an absolute feeding frenzy over the weekend. With all major US news outlets reporting on third-world conditions, mass frenzy, and even a death tied to the flooding, it was easy to become completely enveloped in the tumultuous “state of emergency” conditions. Turn to your friends’ Live Story feeds, however, and a completely different narrative existed. 10-second clips of burners dancing in the rain, embracing under double rainbows, making slip-n-slides across their campsites, and burning the iconic “The Man” effigy despite all the so-called chaos. Citizens of the playa banded together to help repair roofs and tent tops and feed their hungry neighbors. It was a completely transformative experience, as it has always been reported to be.
See, what the mainstream media and the larger normative US culture don’t know is how counter-cultural burners are “radically self-reliant” and extremely prepared for post-apocalyptic conditions. Radical self-reliance sits at the core of their founding principles, and reporters on CNN, NBC, and whatever other network would know this if they reported accurately and honestly. Only one did. One on-the-ground reporter from the barrage of hourly “breaking news” updates even mentioned radical self-reliance. But what does the term even mean?
Resilience in the face of adversity is what guides the social laws of the playa. By extension, there are countless camping festivals that carry on this same tradition. Remember the last edition of Tomorrow World, which the media dubbed Tomorrow Mud? Or the tornado conditions that wreaked havoc on Mulberry Mountain during Wakarusa 2016? Attendees of these editions all resoundingly reported life-changing experiences that they wouldn’t have traded for anything.
“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts”— Marcus Aurelius
So let’s let the media be the media, I suppose, and let’s change the narrative to actually reflect the reality of Burning Man. Not chaos and destruction, not death or even alkaline poisoning—but love, connection, positivity, and transformation. These values are what make the EDM community strong, and what so many have long forgotten in recent times. Let Burning Man 2023 be this reminder that we need to return to this mindset as a community.
Here’s the real story of Burning Man:
Information seeker. Dog lover. PhD drop out. College professor by day, EDM photographer by night.