I recently read in one of my preferred blogs, Social Media Rock Star, how Burning Man is now the place to be. It's the cutting edge. Maybe even the bleeding edge.
Cutting and bleeding edges. Two terms that take me back about ten years to a marketing meeting we had at MTV. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss future trends of the planet, hopefully to be detected and incorporated by MTV programming just before the rest of the world caught on.
The trends talked about in that meeting were spot on. We talked about India. People would start turning to the east, traveling there. Yoga would become mainstream. We discussed body art, not just elaborate tattoos but flesh art, where you literally cut or burn a design in your skin. Sounds implausible to many, I suppose, but when you look at magazines like Body Modification E-zine or notice that Yahoo! has an entire section on body modification, suddenly what once seemed over the top and off the edge comes a little closer to home.
But we never talked about Burning Man, even though it already had a rather long history by then. At that time, the few people who heard about Burning Man called it a place for hippies to dance naked in the dessert.
This article I read, How To Stay Near the Cutting Edge, tells us Larry and Sergy of Google fame played at Burning Man right before Google became huge. Matador Network published an article on the Thirteen Coolest Art Installations at Burning Man. And there seems to be more and more of a buzz on social media sites -- Twitter, Friendfeed, Posterous and more. Everyone wants to drop everything this summer to spend a week dancing naked in the desert.
Does this mean Burning Man has gone mainstream? Well, that all depends if you believe Social Media is now mainstream. I'm not quite sure it is. Yes, it's in the news and all over TV. Ellen and Oprah twitter, you know.
But I think for many, these things are still in the realm of trend. Until social media is used exclusively in place of other more traditional forms of media, until using the phone or turning on the television is something we quietly accept that really only Grandpa still does, because he never quite cottoned to the idea of sending a video through his phone to be simultaneously posted on a profile at each of the 50+ social media sites, until then Social Media is the new kid on the block. And the new kid on the block still has a lot to prove.
So now, why do I want to go to Burning Man? I'm curious. No, I am beyond curious. What is this thing in the desert that seems to inspire such grand creativity in so many people? What is this festival of naked hippies that so many cite as a life changing experience?
They say you simply can't imagine what it's like until you experience it for yourself. I picture standing on the playa, a flat plane of dessert in Nevada, as the top of my head bursts open and all colors, stars and energy will flow forth. And then, then I will understand.
Yeah, something like that.