Festival-goers at Tomorrowland will wear bracelets that send Facebook friend requests
The wearable tickets are an example of smart technology being used at music festivals
Tomorrowland takes place during the last two weekends in July in Boom, Belgium
Editor’s Note: Each week in “Apparently This Matters,” CNN’s Jarrett Bellini applies his warped sensibilities to trending topics in social media and random items of interest on the Web.
For several months in 2003, I did the whole European backpacker thing. Which is to say I’ve seen nearly every cathedral within 1,000 square miles of the Danube.
“Are we cultured yet?”
“Shut up. Two more.”
It also means that I have an old journal filled out in the back with countless e-mail addresses from travelers I’ll probably never see again. This was before the heyday of social media, back when pretending to care about people you just met required considerably less effort.
Because now when you go abroad, you actually have to connect with your fellow travelers over Facebook. And then deny their Candy Crush requests.
Well, these casual travel friendships are about to go completely bonkers over the next two weekends as the world-famous Tomorrowland festival kicks off in Belgium.
I’ll get to why in a moment, but for those of you who are unfamiliar with Tomorrowland, it’s a multiday gathering of thousands upon thousands of beautiful young people from all over the planet, congregating in a fairytale-themed field, dancing all night to DJs playing EDM.
(Note to Dad: EDM stands for Electronic Dance Music. It sounds nothing like Willie Nelson. Just put on the Golf Channel and stay away from Belgium.)
That said, if you’re not my dad and actually enjoy EDM, it’s probably a great time. Especially if you’re into that whole being young and enjoying life thing.
I’d go, but my iCal has me scheduled to wallow in self-doubt.
(The following weekend is also completely booked with some pre-planned lower back pain.)
However, if you do make it over to Belgium, this year you’ll be wearing a special festival bracelet that allows you to instantly send friend requests to people you just met.
“YOU get a friend request. YOU get a friend request. YOU get a friend request. EVERYBODY GETS A FRIEND REQUEST!”
Now, because this festival is so delightfully wackadoo, these bracelets literally arrive at your door in a Tomorrowland treasure case, which, from what I’ve seen online, is far more ornate than anything I currently have in my house.
No offense, IKEA.
You see, this festival tends to go all-in on the ridiculous. And I like that.
They’ve made it fun before you even get there.
An instructional Web video from Tomorrowland explains that, once your treasure case arrives in the mail, you have to use a “magical key” to “unlock the happiness.”
Then, inside the box, you’ll find your bracelet, for which you have to go online to activate with a personalized code.
Next, to “fully unleash all its magical power,” you connect it to your Facebook account. And if everything syncs up as it should, the bracelet is then armed for making instant friends.
Back in my day, we used cheap bourbon and old war stories.
Somehow, I just turned 72.
But at Tomorrowland, you and your new pal just need to be near each other while you press your “heart” buttons at the same time.
The next day, you’ll receive a daily “special friendship” e-mail with all the contact details of your new late-night besties.
“Who the hell is Gunther?”
“He’s that crazy German guy with no pants. You spent six hours with him building a glow stick castle.”
So, who knows what kind of new digital friends you’ll suddenly make. The possibilities are endless.
You can even play port-a-potty roulette with the person using the stall next to yours.
“I don’t know who you are over there, or what you just ate, but … One. Two. Three. Go!”
What’s also cool is that the bracelet is actually your entrance pass to the festival. There’s no paper. And that’s sort of the new trend in ticketing: high-tech smart bracelets.
In fact, this year, Lollapalooza in Chicago is going cashless by using radio frequency identification-enabled wristband tickets that also allow festival-goers to make payments. The bracelets are linked to the user’s credit card.
Which, after far too many beers, probably sounds like this:
“I’ll take a poster. And a t-shirt. And a coozie. And another poster. And another t-shirt for that guy. And whatever this chick wants. And let’s do another poster.”
What could possibly go wrong?
Anyway, things have certainly changed since I promised to keep in touch with all those people I met back in Europe. But this is just life as we know it in our crazy modern world.
“Hey, Gunther. You up for another glow stick castle?”
Follow @JarrettBellini on Twitter.