Feel free to check out Part 1 if you haven’t already!
In Bonnaroo culture, it’s normal to high-five strangers, hug your neighbors, and treat everyone like you know them. Bonnaroovians want the festival to be an indulgent, music-fueled, dream vacation. So it is.
For the rest of America, it’s normal keep to ourselves and mind our own business. We find comfort in our personal bubbles.
I live in Bloomington, Indiana, one of the most culturally diverse and progressive towns in the state. There are numerous art festivals and events to give citizens a strong sense of community. There are even homeless folks who come from all over the country because of the town’s hospitable reputation. This town is famous for its friendliness and positive vibes.
But it’s no Bonnaroo. Although it’s not a fair comparison, we can learn from the communities’ differences.
When I walk around town and the IU campus, there aren’t high fives—there is hardly a “hi.” If you’re a stranger, you're barely spared a passing glance. When I make eye contact with someone on the sidewalk, they usually look away or through me.
On my way to work last week, I saw large sections of the sidewalks fenced off for a festival. I tried telling a lady she was walking towards a dead end, but she ignored me. The worst case scenario is a slight inconvenience, so I let her go. I heard her yell, “Jesus!” when she reached the end. I don’t think she was saying a prayer.
That same day, I ordered some lunch at my favorite food truck, Juancho’s Munchies. I was waiting for my food when I noticed the next guy ordered a meal I like. I tried saying, “Good choice, that’s my go-to,” but the man gave me a look and ignored me. Shame on me for intruding on his private affairs.
Until I went to Bonnaroo, I never realized how much we ignore each other every day.
Bloomington is the most friendly town I’ve ever lived in by far. But I can’t help but wonder if our culture has a low standard for a town’s friendliness in the first place. On The Farm, I overhead someone say, “Bonnaroo is nothing short of life changing.” I thought he was being dramatic and deep to a Bonnarookie, but now I understand. This music festival opened my eyes to a new standard of friendliness.
I’m an introverted person. I enjoy time to myself and I’m fine if I don’t say more than five words some days. I understand the desire to be alone. But we’re a social species. We have a biological instinct to be a part of a community. We may enjoy alone time, but we can’t handle staying alone.
Bonnaroo is a symbol of humanity’s social excellence. It’s a vacation from the egocentric culture we’ve all come to accept. Now that I’ve been through the looking glass, I see that our personal bubbles aren’t protecting us; they’re confining us.
If the Bonnaroo experience is shaped by its community, why can’t our communities do the same?
Maybe I’ve got the Bonnablues. Or maybe some of Bonnaroo’s craziness stuck with me. But I’ll try my hardest to Radiate Positivity until I figure it out.