Oh, No! The Influencers Are Coming! But It’s What Happens if We Win That’s Interesting

As someone with a long interest in the question of “Who’s ruining Burning Man now?”, I’d like to take a moment to respond to the Fast Company article suggesting that “Instagram Culture” may finally ruin Burning Man the way tech billionaires, DJs, frat bros, and literally everyone else has not.

It’s a good article, talking about a problem that many of us have expressed concern about. But its discussion rests — as so many of these conversations do — on the premise that something unusual or unexpected is happening. That there was ever a chance something like this wouldn’t have happened if Burning Man got big enough. Recognized enough. But of course there wasn’t. This is what capitalism does, for good and for ill: it appropriates anything successful enough to get its attention.

The specific discussion of how to handle influencers in the attention economy is a good one, and worth having, but I think it’s also better contextualized as part of an entirely predictable series of events. What Burning Man is facing is not an unexpected crisis like an earthquake or a meteor strike — it is a problem of success.

We Didn’t Start This Fire

Look at the history of how “mainstream” culture has tried to address Burning Man. First they tried to shut us down, then they condemned us, then they ignored us, then they laughed at us and tried to make us a joke, then they tried to buy us — and because none of that worked, now they are trying to appropriate us.

As long as we were successful, each next step in this conflict was inevitable. So long as we kept growing, we were going to hit each new phase. That’s what happens. This new issue isn’t coming up because we weren’t prepared or did something wrong: it’s coming up because we keep doing something right. Success creates new kinds of problems.

This Isn’t so Hard

Frankly, though, for all the gnashing of teeth and the wails of despair — how, oh how, shall Burning Man ever survive people coming and taking SELFIES?!? How shall we ever resist the takeover by pretty people scrounging for likes on INSTAGRAM? Who could withstand that kind of power? — I’m not actually all that worried about us finding a way to deal with this.

Part of that is because we have more legal protections than most cultures facing appropriation. We have active trademarks, IP teams, and a relatively limited history of symbols to protect. Plus, we are every bit as iconoclastic as we are iconic — our willingness to trash our own symbols in defense of the spirit of our endeavor gives us an edge.

But more importantly: I believe in the resiliency of our culture. Figuring out how to decommodify the attention economy is a serious (and very needed) task, and it will take imaginative solutions and a willingness to make sacrifices and take risks.  But I think it’s something we’re up to — that we’ve faced tougher challenges before.

It’s also very much of a piece with the kinds of challenges we face in other contexts: how do we create a culture in which artists and creators are supported for their work, without them having to commodify themselves and everything they do?

Even if Instagram weren’t a thing, this would be a problem we’d need to address. Not because we’ve done something wrong, but because we’re now successful enough that we can.

What Comes Next

Don’t get me wrong. “Influencers” flooding Black Rock City are obnoxious, and people using images of our art for commercial purposes without consulting (let alone supporting) the artists is a struggle we must fight. But this isn’t a single struggle, this is part of a long road Burning Man has been on towards the creation of a High Culture. We can’t expect to influence the world without it reacting — and this is how it reacts. It’s a well-known process. We’re in the “appropriation” phase.

Once we’ve gotten past this — or okay, if we do — we’ll have to cope with the fact that a phenomenon that grows and can’t be appropriated tends to become a genuinely mainstream cultural movement. That’s just over the horizon. And that is worth having some articles about in the mainstream press.

Top photo by David Nelson-Gal

About the author: Caveat Magister

Caveat is Burning Man's Philosopher Laureate. A founding member of its Philosophical Center, he is the author of The Scene That Became Cities: what Burning Man philosophy can teach us about building better communities, and Turn Your Life Into Art: lessons in Psychologic from the San Francisco Underground. He has also written several books which have nothing to do with Burning Man. He has finally got his email address caveat (at) burningman (dot) org working again. He tweets, occasionally, as @BenjaminWachs

43 Comments on “Oh, No! The Influencers Are Coming! But It’s What Happens if We Win That’s Interesting

    • Jesse Gros says:

      Thank you for a well thought out piece on this. I do appreciate the anti-influencer art that showed up on playa this year. There was some catharsis in that. *Like the video of that guy bombing a photoshoot with a leave blower and making a dust storm. My sincere wish is that folks who come for the wrong reasons will either not return… or will be positively influenced by the culture to change their ways.

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  • DSQISE says:

    So beautifully written, thank you.

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  • Audra says:

    Fantastic read! Bravo on a great art piece!

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  • therealmatahari says:

    I’m so glad to be able to read this article and realize that you have already thought ahead. So basically what you’re saying is we’re exactly where we need to be, prepared for the future and this next week is going to be awesome.

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  • John Cutler says:

    We need to be transcendent about the negative vibe thrown up by “influencers”. Accept their limitations for they have those in spades. Sometimes we just need to ignore the “look at me” bs of this world and embrace the other beauty that is all around.

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  • Blue Coyote says:

    Bring on the adult diaper clad de-influencers and photo bomb as many Instaglam model shoots as possible. Give em a really dusty, sweaty hug too. They love that.

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  • Louise Gray says:

    I think it comes and goes on waves .. there is always the bubbles .. full of new ideas and energy that take things forward .. then the rest rise then what once seemed impossible and obscure becomes normal .. in the 90’s the firsts went through about 10 scenes in as many years .. all of which shook the world upside down
    Now the Uber cool want to be seen when the roots and seeds of the scenes move on and re pain it by finding the next new …

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  • digitalmorgan@yahoo.com says:

    shut down the EDM venues and most of BMs problems go away.. 10 days of 24 hours “SCOONCH SCOONCH got to be too much for this guy.

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    • Dr Magic says:

      I have been saying this since we went to lottery tickets. We have gotten big enough that we do not need the EDM clubs. And the crowd they bring is more into partying than art.

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  • digitalmorgan says:

    shut down the EDM venues and most of BMs problems go away.. 10 days of 24 hours “SCOONCH SCOONCH got to be too much for this guy.

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  • mynamehear says:

    Nothing “burning” about burning man. More like a wet cardboard cutout man for self aggrandized posers. Get out and see the real art of life called nature before the pathetic jackoffs of my generation literally burn it all down before your very eyes.

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  • Pizzalikesme says:

    Maybe I’m naive but Burning Man will outlive The Influencer. They go once, get their pictures, have a story or two and won’t go back. The Influencer Economy is a already a well known scam. How many trend pieces do you read about a low rent instagram layabout asking a hotel for a free stay or a salon for a free spa day “for the exposure”? They’re on their way out; don’t let something as cheap and lame as this unfortunate phenomenon ruin Burning Man for you. Those of us who love it intensely and care deeply should keep going, keep building, keep creating. It’s also on us to put away our phones and be more present, not move out of their picture, tell them when they leave MOOP etc. Sorry for the rant. I’m stuck working this week and wish I was getting dusty.

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  • Doc Hicklin says:

    ” Comparative observation ”
    Howdy to all. Before I start, a few stats.

    I am 66 years old, a retired teamster Class A CDL -HAZMAT driver, a former machinery mover and rigger, radical left wing tie dye hippie, graphic artist, and former marine engineer, so I have been to sea, I was born at Castle AFB in 53, and have been an active aviation enthusiast all of my life. I did the graphic design for the t-shirts sold by me, at the Oshkosh sea base for 25 years, so I know about large crowds and the always ever present element of money and its pro’s and con’s.
    I have never been to burning man, but I was at the Reno Air races in 1997, so I partially know the terrain.

    But this year, I did construct a very cool custom made, solar powered nocturnal walk about safety helmet for a very cool woman, that this year, 2019, is her first time to be at burning man, and I just now got a 17 second video of her being safe at night in the helmet as she was riding around at night time. That was the best
    $160.00 I ever invested in something that I simply donated and wasn’t worried about it not being returned. ( left no trace, the hat works and she will be bringing it back to Seattle ). So in a small way, I contributed.

    So here we go.
    Sure burning man has gotten big, and it has its problems, and it also has its ten principles, bravo, but make no mistake, there is a reason that BM had to evolve to a 501 C-3 non profit organization, with out that, it would have never been able to be what it is now.

    Now burning man isn’t the only illustration of how large crowds of people that congregate at a particular place for a particular annual event, hence the title of this post ” comparative observation ” This year at the annual Oshkosh fly in and EAA convention, it was their 50th year of doing so, a few numbers to show how big and serious this event is,
    for the week long event ( 2019 ), 642,000 attendance, 2,772 international visitors, 12,300 campsites, 5,500 volunteers, 863 exhibitors, 2,758 show planes, 127 take offs and landings per hour, economic impact for Oshkosh area, $170,000,000 all numbers directly from the EAA website.

    Now before you all start rolling your eyes and say, yes but that is an event that isn’t like burning man at all, there is money and sales and products for sale at an aviation event, ( next to the Paris airshow, its still the world series of aircraft on an annual basis. ) But its also very much like burning man in that the locals of Oshkosh, have had to put up with this amazing aviation circus for a very long time, and guess what, the EAA and the city of Oshkosh are joined at the hip, they can never let go of one another, the city benefits a lot from the annual attendance and the influx of money. Also, there isn’t any other place of that size, that the EAA can go to, so the annual gathering at Oshkosh has to deal with incredible high heat, lighting, wind, and sweltering humidity, plus very bad weather such as severe storm warnings and tornadoes that can and do happen at the event annually, and also, because of the nature of the event, there are deaths ( not every year, but there have been deaths from crashes at Oshkosh ) and incidents each year.

    The main field is clay that doesn’t drain very well, and this year Oshkosh got hit hard right before the show started with 7 inches of rain, so a lot of planes couldn’t land or park on the grass, and thousands of motor homes that tried to park on the field, got stuck in the mud and had to be towed out, so the local side roads were filled to capacity with campers that could not get into to the vast area of Whittman field at Oshkosh.
    Nature always bat’s last, and the weather isn’t something that can be tamed.

    So fast forward to now, and at this writing, the man was burned last night , a big thank you to the very cool webcast people that made it possible for me to enjoy the colossal spectacle and mosaic of live, color, and movement in the form of fire and light ! Bravo well done !
    By me not being there and still getting to enjoy the live feed, it made me smile to know that in a small way, I got to be there in a one way feed of visual input, ( but I digress, no spectators ).

    The fact that me, at age 66, can watch the burning of the man, at burning man on live webcast, that is pure George Jettson my friends, we are well into the Dick Tracy two way wrist radio, world of communications ( or is that your cell phone you are talking to with a face on the other end in real time ) ?

    Cheshire grin!

    Well guess what kids, as I read over a lot of the post’s on the topic of the influencer’s and who ruined burning man, here are a few things to consider. The planet has moved forward through space and time, and the element of an analog phone and land line is dead and gone. Some very enterprising people last year made it possible for a modified 747 to appear out there in the black rock desert, and since I have moved a lot of big heavy machinery in my career, the movement of that 747, only happened because of money and influence, and who knows what other elements were in play as well.

    I totally get what Burning man is supposed to be all about, and all of the original concepts from the past ( Larry Harvey etc etc ) but make no mistake, for burning man to be what it is, there has to be Grade-all telescoping forklifts and mobile cranes to erect all of the bigger art installations and temples and such out there, a fleet of 20 and 40 ft containers are in place year round as mobile storage and static storage. There will never be enough electric vehicles that can truly carry a load and the batteries it takes to bring a payload from point A to point B, that is why we are still burning fossil fuels to power the diesel rigs that we all depend upon to get what we need transported to where we need it!

    Commercial jet airliners still burn Jet A, probably will till all of the dinosaur juice is sucked out of the planet, but I digress!

    That entire element about trying to convince people to not take pictures or to film anything out at Burning man, purely for the element of conjoining it with a product to enhance a brand or to encourage people to buy something, good luck with that, as stated from another post on this journal ” that ship has sailed ”

    All old news no doubt.

    The reality is, Burning man has become a big event that now has power and reach and scope, planet wide, I find that to be amazing and truly appreciated by me.

    Yogi berra said once ” If the people don’t want to come out to the ball park, ain’t nobody gonna stop em ” See a trend here ?, good I knew you would.

    I could see from the webcast, that there is a ton of trailers and motor-homes out there during the event, and since I own unique vehicles, I can totally appreciate the art cars and the mutant vehicles that drive around at all hours and the incredible engineering that goes into them to make them a very large and important part of what burning man is.

    None of that is cheap as well you know, it costs time and money.

    I was grinning to myself when a night before, during the burning of the temple of brad pit, the camera for the webcast was zoomed into to show a very cool LED string of green lights in the shape of a hand with the center finger pointed straight up in the well known ” one finger salute ” position, as it traversed across the playa, and I thought to myself, how cool is that, that person went to all of that trouble to make the vehicle, and its central core theme at least visually at that precise point in time, was to say F$$K YOU ! As a radical artist myself, I totally got it, but at the same time, the message was very clear, regardless of the artist’s original concept.

    To quote Max Yasgur, ” and I got pleasure for it ”

    So anyway, I just wanted to point out, as cool and revered as the ten principles are, its a new world out there kids, the little guy doesn’t have the bucks to procure a 747 and modify it and drag it out to the desert just to party and have a good time.

    I cant fathom the burning man annual gathering to be held at any other place, than where it is currently.

    Its the desert, and its hot and dusty, and it isn’t friendly to humans, all that being said, its the perfect place to go blow stuff up, go burn vast amounts of wood, to be totally free as far as the existing rules as set forth by the burning man organization as it projects them, and enforces them, and till there is something of an astronomical event or phenomenon that can fold space ( gotcha! ) the money will keep coming, there will be plug and play camps, there will always be something of a controversial nature as to how it all exists and comes together in a smooth manner as it has done for decades.

    Don’t get me wrong here, I wish that it wasn’t so easily influenced by money and alleged corporations, but let the image of the 747 linger in your heads as you plan out next years adventures and costumes and vehicles. That rig wasn’t a thrown away airplane, somebody with deep pockets wanted it there, and it would not have been prudent to try to burn it down either, but that is another story for another time.

    2014 was my last year of sales at the Oshkosh sea base, 2015 was my last time to attend Oshkosh, to tie up loose ends, sell the truck and trailer and just be a spectator shooting film and taking pictures at the main field. The reason I quit going to Oshkosh was the way the price of the rooms ( University of Wisconsin dorm rooms ) had risen over the years, the heat, the rain, the bad ass mosquitoes the overhead of all of the factors that it takes to pull off that show each year, and that I have totally lost my desire to ever fly in a commercial aircraft again!

    More fun to watch the burning man event from the comfort of my easy chair, besides all of that, my allergies and lungs cant handle the dust!

    I totally respect all of you, that made the journey to the Black Rock Desert, I thank you for your participation.
    Spread mirth and joy where ever you go!
    “Good aint cheap, and cheap aint good ”

    Sincerely, Doc Hicklin
    Seattle Washington

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    • BC says:

      What an AMAZING reply… especially from someone who as never come. I own a car with a group of buddies and have been to BM a long time. I live in Reno and have seen first hand how BM has shaped our culture here in Reno for the better. Everything changes, and it is good to reflect on how those positive changes outweigh the silliness of the insta-models. Thanks again for your extremely well thought-out reply.

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    • Gravy says:

      Doc, thanks for encapsulating most of the rants I feel after what was my first and probably only burn. The Jaw-dropping site of the 747 lured my wife and I to explore what seemed impossible. As virgin burners it ALL seemed impossible and we sought every incredulous nugget of fodder possible.

      Swinging by the Post Office to check for mail one day – none for us as expected – our true goal was to help deliver someone’s mail and we were obliged with just that! 9:05 and J was our destination for the 3 letters which had 2 previous ‘failed deliveries’, thus we were determined. Our efforts led us into a camp that sprawled with RV’s and plug and play tents. One referral after another led us to the ‘camp director’ Jimmy Shoes. This was an eerie meeting and I felt as if danger lurked. We were asked if we were looking for ‘powder’ and for the first time during the burn I felt a great sense of dissatisfaction. I was stunned and expressed only my hope to deliver these letters. We were directed back to the bar at the camp where we started and escaped that scene without harm.

      We became more aware of the ‘Plug N Play’ residence at Black Rock City. Resentment built from obvious misunderstanding of the 10 Principles and wonder about the use of such camps to lure campers to pay for such spots increased. The deep emotional impact was set. We couldn’t finish our burn quickly enough. Every day after that there was more MOOP to pick up, more evidence of commodification, less radical self-reliance and so on. The whole event changed for us.

      It is my opinion that the influencers are the least of our concerns at Burning Man. Those ‘fakes’ will disappear and become nothingness. The fascination of a 747, a 10 person collaboration to make a metal Pegasus fly, the Folly and so much more are impressed deeply in me. Cost to get those there? Not sure I care. I had my own costs to gift to the community and relinquished them gladly.

      It’s the commodity of selling spaces in these camps that has astounded me. The camp we joined had no cost to join. They just wanted our commitment, which we gave. We read every article we could to gain every insight and nothing prepares us for the deviation of “the powder event” and subsequent enlightenment that followed.

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    • Indi 500 says:

      Hot damn eloquent overview!
      Thank You –
      Indi 500
      BM 1999-2012

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  • KatB says:

    I visited the Black Rock Desert once, about 20 years ago with my boyfriend who lived over in Fallon. It was early April, not a soul to be seen in any direction. He told me about a festival called “Burning Man” and tried to explain to me what the meaning and culture was. It wasn’t like we could just Google it. So, a couple decades go by and I can now conveniently Google Burning Man, which I’m still curious about, having a handful of acquaintances who have attended. Honestly, my heart sunk to my stomach when I got the results. Hmmmm…. I am not beautiful or sexy enough to attend this festival You’d think it was a gigantic photo op for the Insta-model masses. Doesn’t this narcissistic, self absorbed culture completely go against the principles of the festival, as in unity amongst the people and discovering a higher level of awareness and appreciation for each other? Focusing on taking pictures of yourself, or making someone else constantly take pictures of you for Instagram, is disgusting behavior and embodies the term “self centered”. Having the obsession to document every detail in life, from the stupid ACAI BREAKFAST BOWL, to the horrors of suicide and murder, is a sad commentary on our modern world. It is seemingly difficult for some people to live without advertising themselves. Who would they be without the constant validation of “likes”? Hopefully this self centered behavior and blatant disregard for the Burning Man principles fades away before I totally lose interest in attending.

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    • Dr Magic says:

      Good response, however, the vast majority of folks are not the ‘beautiful’ people. They are a small subset that happens to post a lot of pictures. In 19 years I have probably not taken more than 30 pictures of myself. I am there for me and others that want to make things happen.

      Sure, there is ‘eye candy’ but it gets lost in the vast majority or real folks having the time of their lives. You stop noticing it pretty quick.

      The EDM clubs draw a lot of the Instagram crowd. I’d prefer them to be gone but I doubt they ever will. Easy enough to avoid that scene and enjoy the rest of the Burn.

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    • Firebrand says:

      KatB, never fear. I was pleased to see, on my 1st Burn, that there were many people there older than me (I’m mid 50s) and in varying degrees of physical health. The event has gone long enough to have genuine elders. There is also a mobility camp for those who are less able to get around.
      Art cars are fun, but many are mobile EDM stages. Good luck getting a ride on most of them if you’re not IG ready AND interested in Playa Tech. Frankly, if I’ve heard it OOONCE OOONCE OOONCE, I’ve heard it a thousand times. I want to go back with my own art car with a sign reading “must be this old and ugly to enter.”
      I ended up getting a handicap sticker from DMV after getting injured. Driving the Prius out to the Temple Burn, it was fun to drive a little too close to a photo shoot, roll down the windows, and yell “FUCK YOUR INSTAGRAM” at top volume while kicking up dust.
      My point is, while you mainly see the pretty people post online about the Burn, most burners are rather more normal, and look like genuine, though freaky, humans. Your tribe is there. Somewhere.

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  • Eric says:

    Did anyone else see the “Influencer Trap” at a camp near Kidsville? Had a giant bedazzled captains hat overhead and said INFLUENCER TRAP but then TRAP was crudely crossed out and it said “VIP ENTRANCE” with a red carpet and velvet ropes. Was super funny to bike by and the inside had all this interactive stuff.

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  • Instaclowns says:

    First, WHAT A GREAT ARTICLE AND THANK THANK THANK YOU bringing this to the attention to people that may not even recognize it as the malignant, narcissistic culture that is spreading its insidious cancer to society writ large. I too share the frustration and disgust when I see these “photo shoots”. After a perfect sunrise with matched music, our tired, dirty, and fully fulfilled band of friends setup a morning picnic on the playa. Then they came… in their perfectly clean body suits along with the cameraman with their $15K equipment. OF COURSE we have to fuck with them! My wife starts by doing non-stop cartwheels behind them… my buddies stand silent behind them with ass cheeks out arm in arm staring at the sunrise. My point? No reason to get mad… fucking with them is WAAAAY more fun! We all need to do it every time you see it…. It’s hilarious.

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    • Elena says:

      That’s an awesome idea! I wish I had thought of that! We had a beautiful sunrise and were dancing tango to greet the sun when one of them showed up and started taking photos at the piece of art where we were. We got disgusted and left. A couple of meters away I realized I left my goggles inside of the artwork – I distinctly remembered them laying by the wall inside. When I went to retrieve them I saw them tossed outside by the the “model’s crew”… These people are shallow and self-centered and definitely don’t belong at BM, but I do think they are a transient phenomenon… like anything shallow and self-centered..

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  • Lagniappe says:

    Clamping down on the plug and plays, etc, will certainly help. Make Burning Man uncomfortable and dirty and suddenly the Insta-Models don’t look so glamerous.

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  • JP Taco says:

    Thanks for writing this! I am particularly disheartened by the whole influencer thing and how people’s behavior online seems increasingly false.

    That said, I see this as being an issue of how culture gets disseminated, and I believe that’s the biggest challenge to Burning Man as it grows. I agree that the general pattern observed in the world (and endemic to capitalism) is grow grow grow then become shit. But Burning Man is not an event to grow grow grow then become shit; it’s a culture. I worry that somehow the transmission of the culture itself is clearly not getting through, otherwise the influencers wouldn’t be an issue.

    It’s a fascinating thing, to create and promote a culture, and I wonder how BMORG can do a better job. FOr instance, Burning Man is a leave no trace event, absolutely. But the truth of that is that a dedicated crew of people come to the playa and clean up the bullshit of several thousand others. I know there are loads of campers who leave no trace, I know I always did, but I also know that there is an even bigger load of tireless workers cleaning up after the event. That to me is an indication that not everyone who attends is hip to the culture – and that’s the real challenge to be faced – and not to be faced by BMORG alone, but by all of us who consider Black Rock City home and participate, really participate, in the community and culture.

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  • Gordon Woolvett says:

    I absolutely HAVE to comment on this. First hand experience, unfortunately.

    This year we brought our kids to introduce them to the creativity, connection, community and mass kindness that, for us, makes BM amazing. And it was amazing.


    There was only one incident and it make me want to puke recounting it.

    We rolled our kids all the way to the furthest stop along the fence line (2nd point? 3rd?) We stopped to have a look at Awful’s Gas and Snack. Aptly named in this case.

    There she was in her – of course – jewelled captains hat and bikini, posing endlessly for a pro photographer and her “friend” egging her on by the sidelines to get her to pose more luridly. They finished and stepped aside and my wife and kids stepped up to get a family photo… When she decided to step back in for some more pics and literally pushed my family out of the way.

    Her “friend” immediately turned to me to explain and said: “Oh sorry, she’s an influencer, and , you understand, influencers come first.” And then turned back to egg her on some more.

    I was so shocked I said nothing. I didn’t;t want to make a scene and be a bad example for my kids. I wanted to stay in the zen positivity that is burning man for us.

    She was obviously taking shots for her channel. This is exactly what the article is talking about and her actions went against the 10 principles. Next time I’ll be ready to kindly but firmly tell her what’s what and find out who she is to notify BM. People like that shouldn’t be allowed to take a ticket away from some other creator or artist who may actually contribute like the rest of us.

    Personally I cant even stand this stupid word “influencer.” Hawking yourself to gain fake likes and sell crap is not influencing. Not by a long shot.

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  • Jak Secret says:

    I just had an inspiration: Lets rename it “‘Fuck your Mother’s Eat Me Festival”. Problem solved, forever.

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  • Elder Wrong says:

    This is exactly the reason why shirt cocking needs to make a huge come back (puns intended)! We have shamed the shirt cockers out of existence over the years and now the void that was left is obviously being filled by Instagram Influencers. This is war people. We need to radically include shirt cocking back into the fold of Burning Man or face the future of a Burning Man over run by pretty pink bunnies taking selfies all over the playa! What can you do to stem the tide? Encourage shirt cocking in your camps, villages and around your art projects. Each and every art project should have a shirt cocker guard 24/7. Anyone over 40 attending Burning Man should be against pants and should just never wear them ..period..We did this to ourselves. Fortunately there is a solution! #makeshirtcockinggreatagain

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    • JRod says:

      Finally, a practical solution! Well played, sir, well played!

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    • Sunbeam says:

      You literally just made me laugh out loud! Thanks you gorgeous-shirt-cocking-mother-f@#ker you!

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      • Doc Hicklin says:

        I have totally enjoyed reading all of the post on this particular element of burning man and the influencer’s. And I have totally enjoyed the element of bringing back the shirt cocker’s. There has always been a radical smart ass in me that loves to fuck with people that deserve to be fucked with in a non violent way. This is just a tip for all of you that really want to bug the people in the photo shoots around the art, that is on display out there on the playa.

        Simply have a small mirror with you at all times, if its sunny and no wind or dust blowing, and the ” influencers ” want to take a picture, those that are so inclined, can be as far away as 200 to 300 feet, and with the mirrors, you can really intimidate a potential photo opportunity, and you don’t have to be right there with cock and balls flailing about to disrupt the photo opportunity, how ever, since its the desert and its a place where anything can happen, to me in a purely organic way of using the natural elements, (the sun) and practical reflective power of the suns rays, you would have to admit, that is a novel way to inject some fun and cause immediate change in a situation that apparently is cause for concern to those that feel strongly about it.

        Great mental image of a 55 gallon drum full of mirrors that are the size of say 4″ X 4″ or smaller, that is labeled with a sign that says free mirrors, that should easily fulfill the element of ” gifting ” out there on the playa.

        I hope there will be another live stream webcast from Burning man next year, I would love to see how many free mirrors are given away and being used to have fun out in the dirt, you can bet I will be watching and cheering on those that have the ability to have fun!

        Again, my deepest thanks to all of you that went to burning, and to those that participated in a great event, that lets the universe know at large, that this planet, can be a fun place, past all of the money and political bullshit that seems to befoul our atmosphere!

        Spread mirth and joy where ever you go, feel free to direct the sun’s ray’s, to those areas that need light!

        Doc Hicklin
        in Seattle Washington

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  • Deniz Nicole says:

    I gotta say as an artist who builds out there… When rainbow nips gets 2k in front of my art cause shes hot and I cant get more than 50 or 60 likes on something I am all but killed myself for over the course of the year… it hurts.

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  • Markus says:

    Thank you for this article. I think the point you make about decommodification is really important and maybe a pathway to resolve the issue in a way that is not exclusive but inclusive. The reason why a selfie from burning man is valuable is it has a certain rarity to it. What if one could remove this rarity? I can imagine an art project that allows everyone from anywhere in the world to submit a selfie in front of a green screen. With that photo one could find the right art piece and take a picture to give the person the selfie of burning man they want without ever being there. I assume this would reduce the appeal quite a bit. Let me know your thoughts.

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  • EP says:

    I really appreciate this discussion! As a virgin who traveled from New Zealand and spent 3 weeks (in SF, Reno and on the playa early) helping to build our camp and create artwork, I felt I was finally making a childhood dream come true. However, I ended up spending the first part of burn week super disheartened by the vibe, which felt tainted by influencer culture. In too many places I found myself, I was surrounded by beautiful people who neither felt present nor engaged. No one looked you in the eye or made any response to my efforts to be friendly. I felt super conflicted as this wasn’t the burn I’d always wanted to experience. It wasn’t until Thursday night when I explored The Folly that I felt like I’d finally come home. I’d been searching for the eclectic, the wierd and wonderful that makes BM unique. I’ll go back again one day hopefully and know to look deeper, I’ll also know where to avoid.

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  • Pants says:

    Hopefully we just have to wait a few more years when Burning Man will become passe, overplayed and overexposed in the media rooms and living rooms of america. More critical articles from the Post and Times saying how bad it’s gotten, please! Jumped the shark, why yes! Influencers will say ewww, why would I want to go there? (You’re right dearie, it’s horrible!) Then we’ll move forward being laughed at by every so-called trendsetter who’s over it. And we’ll all be happy. And as we give and receive generous hugs, yes, we will tacitly acknowledge that shaming the shirt cockers was a big mistake.

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  • Neil Johnson says:

    Man…. life is art. Embrace art like life. I imagine there is a fair way to contribute to the art and organization that makes it all happen. Kinda like finding oil in the middle of the desert… just think about it…? Idk…

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