Snark vs. Sparkle

I’ve received a number of concerned emails from virgins over the last month. They heard about this magical place of acceptance in the desert and set out to make a pilgrimage. As instructed, they tried to learn whatever they could online so they could be “Radically Self-Reliant.” But along their path of digital research, they stepped into some online Burner dialogues thick with snark. Without knowing anyone and without the benefit of eye contact/body language/etc., the newbie gets the impression that this tone of joking disdain means that they are not welcome.

I try to let people know that Burning Man is not a love fest. It is a fertile ground for expression of every sort. It is a place for harmony and chaos. For cuddle piles and Thunderdome. For heartfelt expression and snarky insults.

And you are welcome there.

Admittedly, I am on the “sparkle” side of the spectrum (and I receive my share of disapproving snark.) So, yesterday I discussed the issue of Snark, Sparkle, & Radical Inclusion from my fuzzy pink perspective.

And here’s a fantastic (unofficial) Message from The Man reiterating that you are welcome in Black Rock City:

About the author: John "Halcyon" Styn


Halcyon is a 21-year Burning Man participant and co-founder of Pink Heart camp. He is author of "Love more. Fear less." and producer of the Burning Man short film, "The Pink Path." He's won Webby awards for his over-the-top personal site & his "Love On Demand" video podcast Halcyon co-founded the San Diego based "1st Saturdays" homeless outreach program based on Burning Man Principles and coaches people how to be radically self expressed in the default world. You can find his full Playa Tips & Tricks series at

10 Comments on “Snark vs. Sparkle

  • Lorelei Sadie Hawkins says:

    I am eagerly awaiting all aspects of Burning Man from my virginal expectations…

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  • Thumper says:

    Halcyon, you are definitely on the sparkle side, and we love you for it! (and no, that was not snark). Looking forward to the Pink Ride again this year!

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  • Tigger says:

    Snark on the right side,
    Sparkle on the left,
    Meeting in the middle
    is what Tiggers do the best.

    The absurdities are to be laughed at and thoroughly enjoyed at the same time.

    Snarkle away, lovelies!

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  • M Otis Beard says:

    Hi John, nice update.

    Did you know that ‘gift’ is also the German word for ‘poison?’

    I’m just sayin’.

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  • Trilo says:

    Very well said – see you on the playa!

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  • Dakota says:

    Thanks John! Hope to run into you this year! I want to be cool, but I’m all positive!
    Can’t lie, was worried about all the sparkle my first year… several years in and now its my favorite part! People take power hurting others everywhere – that is no different than default to me. Appreciate your electric positivity!

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  • Juan Mon says:

    Everyone is welcome. EVERYONE!!! Thats what “radical inclusion” means. EVERYONE!!!

    No matter who you are, where you are from, income, artistic ability (or not), age, sex, weight, height, orientation, race, religion, political views or past good deeds and indescretions…EVERYONE IS WELCOME. And a true Burner welcomes everyone and accepts everyone.

    So if you run into people online or in person or even on the Playa that treat you with disdain for any reason including what you look like, what you are wearing, how you are camping (and that INCLUDES using a RV) or is in anyway telling you that you arent doing things the right way because you dont do them their way (this is way more prevalent than it should be) then they are not a true Burner regardless of how many times they have been to BRC.

    You are not required to endure their negativity.

    You will find far more positive people on the Playa who will welcome you and make your first time an experience to remember.

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  • Matt M says:

    Sounds like they made the mistake of venturing into the cesspit of trolls and outright a**holes that is the e-playa forums.

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  • Magic Kristian says:

    Nice one Halcyon, you always have a good view on things.

    and virgins, you will be universally loved if you are always MOOPing.

    MOOPing makes friends.


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  • spark says:

    I have in fact been told that i do not belong at burning man, because i can’t handle the “snark.” But it’s more than just snark… Some people take pleasure in being cruel to others, and when they find out that someone is hurt, they gain even MORE pleasure. They enjoy hurting people and they call it burner culture. :(

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