Connectivity Vs. Immediacy

[This post is part of the 10 Principles blog series, an ongoing exploration of the history, philosophy and dynamics of Burning Man’s 10 Principles in Black Rock City and around the world. We welcome your voice in the conversation.]

“This will never fit into a Twitter update.”

Ten years ago I saw a guy dressed like a stockbroker walking along the Esplanade. He was wearing a dust-covered suit and tie, yelling into a cell phone, “Sell, I said! SELL!!!!” It was cute.

Last year I saw quite a few people checking cell phones at Center Camp throughout the week. It was not cute.

Over the years, cell phone & internet access has become more and more accessible at Burning Man – and I think it is a shame. Do I have any right to dictate how someone behaves or “Radically Expresses” themselves? Nope. But I think the Playa’s rare gift of “Immediacy” is in jeopardy.

I was asked about my thoughts this week and clarified my frustration in the video below.

These views are solely the views of Halcyon and do not represent the opinions of The Burning Man Organization or Major League Baseball.

About the author: John "Halcyon" Styn

Halcyon is a 17-year Burning Man participant and 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 He hosted the defunct web series "Fears. Regrets. Desires." and frequently speaks about Gratitude & Gifting. In 2010, Halcyon co-founded the San Diego based "1st Saturdays" homeless outreach program based on Burning Man Principles and the idea of "Service Without Sacrifice." You can find his digital home at

56 thoughts on “Connectivity Vs. Immediacy

  • I come to BM to escape my always on, always connected world. I actually feel naked without instant access to everything important and meaningless alike. But I also believe that technology has crowded time for introspection. The Playa is a place where my deepest thoughts and brightest hopes can manifest without tech interruptions. The absence of a wireless connection forces time for soulful reflection. Not being connected to my global network of friends and colleagues makes me feel small in the universe. It grounds me to the time and space we’re in. Not being connected allows me to enjoy the friends who committed themselves to this experience and it encourages me to make meaningful connections to strangers in the BM community. All said, I do think it’s important to have an outpost for reaching out to family – and work if absolutely necessary. Some wireless access should be available – but only in a designated area that’s far away from the core.
    Ironically, I design computers and mobile devices for a living.
    Frank – Austin Texas

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  • I feel ya. I hear ya. It’s change. It’s OK.

    PS: When you squirt me please hit me in the face. My cell is also my camera and it will probably be encased in plastic.

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  • i even think the selling of coffee at center camp degrades BM for everyone. Seriously, can’t people boil water and make a cup of coffee. Or find someone to gift it. I never go to CC b/c I think it is opposite to where you’re supposed to be at BM. Phones should not be seen or heard IMO. Where is the original concept of “survival” in cell phone use. There is a reason BRDesert is the home of BM. Please BM leaders make a proclamation of no visible cell phone use and encourage non use. Thanks for starting the convo.

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  • If you require internet connectivity to get tickets, you get more people who value internet connections coming to burning man, and discourage those who do not.
    If you required mail order purchases with an actual stamped envelope with a hand drawn piece of art on the outside (like prison art envelopes) to get tickets, you might get more people who are sketch friendly, and would probably interfere with “scalping” more than the current method of ticket sales geared towards relatively anonymous e-purchases.
    If you required a short essay (like the low income ticket program) you might get more writers or more verbally expressive participants, and, again, discourage scalping.
    The choices made by BM mangement as to how people can get in affects who gets in. They may be making these choices without being aware of the affect on people less rich than themselves (let them eat cake) or be doing it intentionally to exclude the “uncool” (Abercrombie&Fitch’s “no XL women’s sizes”). BM is evolving as it grows, adapting in ways that might not have been forseen: plug and play; more cops per capita than any other town in Nevada; pay to play crowdfunding campaigns; commercial photo shoots. If issues arising from those adaptations are not addressed, as were uncontrolled vehicle access, overloud art cars at the temple, and firearms, they are, in effect, allowed to occur.
    Buying tickets, for cash, at a store in Reno led to meeting other participants offplaya, sharing plans and hopeful ideas at the cash register. I don’t get that now, waiting in an electronic queue.

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