Why Burning Man is Changing the World
Trying to explain the Burning Man event to someone who has not been is like trying to explain a colour to a blind person. You just have to see with your own eyes to fully understand it.
What goes on there is pretty hard to explain without underplaying the experience. So for that reason I am not going to try too hard! If you want a taste of what it is then click here or watch this video. Thousands collaborate to create Black Rock City, a temporary metropolis dedicated to community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance. They depart one week later, having left no trace whatsoever. But I promise you that you won’t fully get what it is until you have actually been there and experienced it.
It doesn’t take you long to realise why. For most of the 68,000 people – the Burners – who make the pilgrimage to the Black Rock desert in Nevada for the event, it is life changing.
I went a couple of weeks ago, out of curiosity rather than any deep understanding of what it was. People I admire, like Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg all regularly interrupt their busy schedules to go. I wanted to know why people would subject themselves to such harsh desert conditions and bizarre goings on!
At its core, Burning Man is the temporary establishment of an experimental society founded on a different set of principles from the ‘default’ world: Radical Inclusion, Gifting, Decommodification, Radical Self-reliance, Radical Self-expression, Communal Effort, Civic Responsibility, Leaving No Trace, Participation and Immediacy. These 10 Principles of Burning Man create the platform for something truly remarkable.
It is like visiting another world. It demonstrates how altering the way society is built can produce some surprising outcomes and questions:
What would a world without money or trade look like?
What would a world where everyone contributes rather than consumes look like ?
What would a world look like where everyone has the freedom express themselves fully? What does a world designed from the ground up look like (rather than top down)?
Burning Man answers some of these questions and offers those of us who believe in a technologically enhanced world of abundance some real insight into the future. It is a phenomenally surprising and successful social experiment.
Taking the answers and learning back into the ‘default world’ is interesting. You see, if you give humanity the freedom to express, create, explore and give – the world doesn’t end. Far from it. You get something incredible that delivers so much more. This knowledge is invaluable!
For me it was like reaching the edge of the known universe, and discovering that there is a whole new universe beyond it. In essence, it was one great big pattern disruption, since very little of the ‘default’ world exists out there. It forced me to switch off my mental autopilot and really think. Really, really think. Those radical new inputs and changes in my traditional thought processes naturally rewire my brain. And I know this will have great positive effects in my own life.
So I ask the wider question: what will be the impact of 68,000 people letting go of the present and being inspired to look at life in a different way? What ideas and meaning will this generate for the future? What false realities will be dismissed? How will this collective mindshift change the world?
Burning Man is the most truly epic event I have ever seen – and I have seen quite a few. It has given me a new, stronger belief in the potential of the human race. It has given me the desire to do bigger and better things. It has inspired me to create my own art rather than repeat the work of others. And above all, it has encouraged me to be active in the world rather than watch from the sidelines. (click to tweet)
So for those of you with Bucket Lists, take out your pen and add ‘Be a part of Burning Man’ to the list. For those of you without a list, go anyway, and maybe it will change you enough to change the world.
I, for one, will be back next year. Besides all the inspiration, new connections, experiences and mindshift – it was one fuck of a good party!
Why Burning Man is Changing the World