Every year, the organizers of Burning Man create a Facebook invite for their annual festivities in the Nevada desert, and every year trolls from all walks of the internet congregate to completely obliterate it. In 2016, the trolls came out in full force to post about potato sacks filled with Skoal and PCP, tips on free bleeding, the merits of “Wonderwall,” and Steven Seagal’s judo tent. The year before that, they posed questions for Burning Man organizers about Pan-Asian waterslides, Guy Fieri’s Flavortown Nightmare tent, and Kid Rock’s acoustic life coaching session. After dozens and dozens and dozens of inane posts clogging up the page for weeks, the event listing essentially became unusable for any practical reasons. If an actual Burner needed to inquire about a real issue, it’d instantly be buried below a pile of polls about free-base Bubba Gump shrimp and invites to R. Kelly’s gluten-free sauna. The yearly ritual of torching the Burning Man event page became as celebrated as actually torching the Burning Man.
Past invites have typically been posted at least four months prior to the event, but with Burning Man 2018 right around the corner on August 26, the Facebook event page for this year is conspicuously missing from Facebook. There also doesn’t seem to have been an event page created last year, either. Organizers have recently been using Facebook to create invite pages for smaller events like film screenings and cabaret nights, with the largest ones being their Precompression event in Oakland and their Desert Arts Preview in San Francisco, but no main event, as they’d done every year since at least 2011.
Did the trolls troll so hard that the Burning Man employees finally threw up their hands and gave the fuck up? Burning Man organizers did not respond to a query about why they’ve not created event pages for the last two years.
While Burning Man Facebook activity has reduced over the last two years, the festival has an active subreddit that leads a seemingly untrolled existence where Burners exchange information and preparation updates free of absurd inquiries about Rebecca Black’s hot sauce expo. There’s also a Burning Man Meetup group with over 25,000 members.
Maybe the lesson here is that trolling works. Maybe fucking around on the internet all day at work, which so often seems like a colossal waste of time, can actually be a productive vehicle for social change.
Or maybe the lesson is that no one wants to use Facebook anymore since the site has become even more of a useless trash-heap since Zuckerberg sold our data to the Trump campaign. (Gotta give that one a big Sad emoji reaction, Zuck!)
But whatever the lesson is in the Saga of the Burning Man Facebook Page, one thing is for certain: The internet is a worse place without the annual tradition of repeatedly asking Burners where the Libertarian John Mayer cosplay tent will be. Pour out a can of Paul Ryan's limited edition Rockstar Energy Drink for this one, y'all.
Dan Ozzi is on Twitter if you have more information about where the event page ran off to.