At one with nature.
I really like the naturists that I regularly engage with online. It allows me to connect with like-minded people frequently throughout the day and helps me to feel part of a genuine and caring community.
An author and naturist on Twitter Ted Bun does a weekly shout-out to all the people he has interacted with over the previous week, which must be a herculean task to compile. Im not sure if anyone else feels the same way, but once I got on Ted’s list, it became strangely addictive, and I found it disconcerting if I missed being mentioned in the following weeks. Maybe that’s just me and I am suffering from an unrealised need for validation and connection, but judging from the copious responses and comments to the weekly posts, I am not the only one.
Ted’s weekly shouts are usually a list of tagged people accompanied by a single image with a quote, phrase or adage. A recent one got me thinking. It simply said
Next summer, Don’t be at one with nature… share it with friends.
We have recently finished summer here in New Zealand, but it was not a great season and we have had more rain so far this year than we normally get. As we seem to have missed summer this year, it is appropriate to look forward to next summer to share nature with friends. I hope that my friends and readers north of the equator have better weather in your soon-to-arrive summer season.
For many naturists being at one with nature is a strong reason for embracing the philosophy, but from my observations, there are quite a few of my online naturist connections that seem to be isolated and alone in their naturism. Either their partner doesn’t share their naturist enthusiasm, or they have not yet connected with other naturists in the real world.
For some, the perceived shame and fear of the reaction from others keeps them shut indoors, with the online community their only apparent way of engaging with the naturist community.
For others, the consequences of breaching local laws and restrictions are too severe to risk lifting one's head above the parapet, so they remain hidden and isolated.
There are a lot of people for whom the online connection is simply convenient and time efficient. They don’t need to load up the car and drive hours to a venue to spend time in the company of other naturists. With so many other pressures on our spare time, the online community seems like a good compromise.
Or is it?
As with many social media interactions, not just relating to the naturist community, the online social media bubbles that we engage with are a real paradox in that they are both welcoming and inclusionary and yet at the same time feed the isolationist tendencies of many as they do not require direct interaction with actual people, face to face.
Some will use online social connections to facilitate getting out and meeting up with people with shared interests, but many will simply stay underneath the security blanket provided by the anonymity of an online username.
Social media allows us to hide behind a curtain and test the waters of engagement that we might not dare to in real life. As part of an online community, you might stray into an area that you find intriguing, full in the knowledge that you can back out without losing face, and no one need know. It's quite different to fronting up to the special interest group meeting at the local community centre to see if that’s your thing or not.
These online communities are great at allowing us to identify what we like and which tribe or tribes we want to belong to. While we may find a significant amount of comfort in those non-threatening and non-challenging online communities they are a false substitute for real connections with real people.
BTW and FYI, IRL you need to be AFK.
At some point though, we need to step out from behind the comfort of the online safety net and take those steps into the real world wearing our tribal badge and seeking out other tribe members.
For those of us already out there engaging with the world, we need to remember what it was like when we were first testing the waters, and we need to be encouraging others to get out from behind their devices and take those steps.
We need to help others find their tribe.
This brings to mind a couple of lines from a song that I was lucky enough to hear the artist perform at a recent concert here. It isn’t about naturism, but the message can just as easily apply to naturists everywhere.
But it all amounts to nothing
If together we don't stand
There is power in a Union
Thank you for reading, have a comfortable day.