Burning Man isn’t a way of escaping the social problems that accompany new technology. On the contrary, it is a a petri dish that intensifies and fosters some of the deeper conflicts. It is a case study for, among other things, a new media problem: that of ubiquitous cameras.
Photos are all too easy to take, and they find their way all too quickly to the internet, where they persist long afterwards. When we use some of our freedom to evade a social prescription in one world, we open ourselves up to being forced to cross that line in all worlds. It is as if, having uttered a curse word once, that word is recorded, and played back constantly in front of everyone we ever meet—our bosses, our priests, our children, and our grandparents.
We can argue the socially-defined and evolving boundary lines of all of these things, but what we cannot argue is consent. Consent existed before photography, and will exist long after X-Ray Specs are invented. There have always been assholes that look at a safe space as simply a possibility for exploitation. Consent has never been fully respected by society, nor by its technology. That is no reason to continue to ignore it. Consent is a person’s ability to control their own body, including its image, now and into the future.
The fact that we might never have had full control over our body is not a reason to deny its existence. That exploitation is a historical fact does not make it a future given. Regardless of what technology exists and on what spot on the earth you happen to be standing in, you can either choose to respect consent, or you can choose to violate it.