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Moderate Your Media! (“Dust Disruption”) – John Styn

**an essay to accompany the video “bats in the wind***

The AP story about 2008 Burning Man was ‘Dust Disrupts Burning Man.”
What an incredible illustration of our media.
“Dust Disrupts Burning Man.”
What a disturbing example of how we define “news” as “what went wrong.”
What about “Inspiration Hits 1000’s at Burning Man.”
Maybe, “100+ Couples Wed at Annual Burning Man Event
“Global Art Community Descends on Burning Man.”

It was so strange to talk to family and friends on the way home, after a week of desert bliss. They almost all said, “I heard you guys had terrible weather.”
Um, we had storms.
But that is part of it.
Dust Storms at Burning Man is not “news.”
In fact, it’s not even a negative thing to most of us.
I LIKE the dust storms. I LIKE the white outs. Hell, I think they are REQUIRED to reach the level of surrender that makes Burning Man so transformational.
I call it baptism.
Maybe that should have been the headline:
“Dust Baptizes Burning Man Attendees.”
It is unfortunate that, now that Burning Man is mainstream, the ONE bit of information that the Associated Press informed the masses about was a distorted weather report.
Because that is all I keep hearing from people.
“I heard it sucked. I heard it was too dusty. I heard…”
It’s almost as if knowing that the weather was challenging made people feel better for not being there.
Since I subconsciously wish I was at that party, I’ll take a sick pleasure in learning that it was ruined for those that were there. Makes me feel better for being at work all week.”
Imagine if my neighbors would have read the “baptism” headline.
What a wonderful conversation that would have sparked…instead of a defense of the weather.
I mean, seriously…”Dust Disrupts Burning Man.”
That is just insane.
It is all part of it.
It’s like saying, “Sun Disrupts Ballgame.” Or “Frosting Disrupts Cupcakes.”
Remember this example next time you feel an obligation to stay up on the “news.”
It is NOT your responsibility to stay aware of what is going wrong in the world.
It would be better to have no news at all then think that the “news” from Black rock desert that week was the white outs.
That is such a distortion of the world…I would argue that being “un-informed” is vastly better.
Ignorance of toxic media is not only blissful, is also can be good for your spirit.
Good luck.

  • Kat

    Well I suppose some of the long-time burners might say that a report like that is good. It will curb some of the mainstream from attending BM. Thats debateable though. I dont have a whole lot of thought devoted to the possibility of BM becoming mainstream.

    Onto something more relevant, I sure did think that the dust was bad when I first saw it at my virgin 2007 BM. By the end of the week, I shared your opinion and continue to do so. I still am holding onto whatever dust I have left.

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