Why the Burning Man lottery failed
UM, SO YEAH. I got my Burning Man ticket. I’m one of, like, 20 people who did.
Yet, where is that excitement? The one I get when I know my spot on the playa has been secured, and I can move on with my life.
I’ll tell you where it is. It’s sitting in my inbox behind a slew of emails from friends who have been denied tickets. Seems more than half the people I know did not get one.
Not even those of us who did win tickets are happy. I defer to the playa-named Naughty Bits, who expresses this sentiment far more deftly than I ever could:
- “Two cheap ones granted
Yet I am empty inside
Black Rock jumped the shark”
When he’s not composing rebellious haiku, Naughty creates really cool shit that allows us to communicate with space, plants, and more via multimedia. (It just bears saying because, like I said, really cool shit).
Others, while less eloquent, are just as clear in their discontent:
- “This is bullshit.”
Or if you want more emphasis:
- “This is BULLSHIT.”
— Roy, Jack, Noam, Mike, Alex, Brett, Britt, Sam, Frankie, Lucky, Lightbox and Playboy.
Then, there’s Hitler’s reaction.
And you know, once the Hitler Reacts meme has been invoked, things have truly hit rock bottom.
I couldn’t concentrate, couldn’t work. I just sat around for two days watching my inbox to find out if I’d be one of the worthy to receive a golden ticket or would I, too, be tossed onto the ever-growing pile of ticket rejects.
I eventually had to step away from the computer and spend some quality kitten time with our new kittens, Roco and Coco. Kittens make anything better.
But really folks. Really?
I thought Burning Man was about forging paths around the usual ways. It’s about doing things with your own ingenuity and not accepting an answer just because someone in authority gives it.
Has Burning Man forgotten its own Ten Principles?
1. Radical Inclusion: Anyone may be a part of Burning Man. We welcome and respect the stranger. No prerequisites exist for participation in our community.
- “I feel bad I got a ticket when so many other veterans didn’t :-/ ”
Does that sound like someone who feels included? I’m sure hearing Hitler shout about being a 12-time Burner and now his ticket will go to a tourist only made poor Candice feel worse.
2. Decommodification: (This is the big one. Are you watching carefully?) In order to preserve the spirit of gifting, our community seeks to create social environments that are unmediated by commercial sponsorship, transactions, or advertising. We stand ready to protect our culture from such exploitation.
Let me also remind those of you who didn’t get a ticket that they’re on sale at Stubhub.
$2800 for a ticket? My entire trip to Burning Man, which includes transportation from north-fucking-west Argentina doesn’t cost that much.
3. Radical self-reliance: Burning Man encourages the individual to discover, exercise and rely on his or her inner resources.
First, a quick overview of the 2012 Burning Man Lottery System:
When the regular ticket sales turned into lottery, I as well as many I know felt the new system played directly to the needs of scalpers. Still, we all registered for our tickets and waited patiently.
Then, days before the actual lottery drawing, Burning Man warned in their newsletter that many more registered for tickets than expected. Said the Jack Rabbit, “As a result, a significant number of people will not be awarded tickets in the Main Sale.” We mumbled a bit, but we manifested faith.
Now that we know so many didn’t get tickets, we’re asked, once again, to be patient. The Burning Man Organization — that is, BMORG — has set up the Secure Ticket Exchange Program — that is, STEP — so BMORG will buy back our unwanted tickets to then be sold back to the public through STEP.
I guess Sit-and-Trust-the-Cockamamie-System-Will-Work-For-You is the new radical version of radical self-reliance.
Three other principles to consider:
4. Immediacy: Seeking to overcome barriers that stand between us and a recognition of our inner selves.
5. Participation: Our community is committed to a radically participatory ethic. We believe that transformative change, whether in the individual or in society, can occur only through the medium of deeply personal participation. We make the world real through actions that open the heart.
6. Communal effort: Our community values creative cooperation and collaboration.
Is your heart open now? Do you feel as if you are recognizing your inner-self and overcoming barriers? Are we communicating? Collaborating? Striving to produce?
Or are we mostly sitting around bitching about this stupid system and dubbing Hitler movies while we wonder, well, if half of my camp doesn’t have a ticket, who the hell does?
This new system craps on approximately 60% of the main principles of Burning Man, which, by eyeball accounts, is roughly the same percentage of people who didn’t get tickets.
Coincidence? Yes, probably. But it’s annoying just the same.
So what are our options to fix Burning Man 2012 Ticketgate?
- Chill the fuck out and wait.
- Decide not to go and be pissed off.
- Accept the inevitable — that Burning Man isn’t going to be any good this year.
- Make it clear we’re not happy with things as they are and work toward a solution that serves the community in a real way.
- Go play with kittens. This article offers some options.
I think the choice is clear.
Then, we can all just get our tickets and go back to the business of our lives where, hopefully, we’re doing something more worthwhile than worrying over tickets.
So please, BMORG. I beg of you. Listen to the community. Do something no one else would and take a mulligan. Burn the lottery to the ground and start all over at the beginning.
Because we are Burners, you know, and waiting around usually isn’t our style.