The naturist social media world is a funny space, and you often find yourself forming connections with people with whom you interact. Occasionally I wonder if I would actually get on with these people in real life (IRL in the online vernacular).
There are people whom I chat with online regularly and I am convinced that we would get along just fine over a drink or a meal, and there are others where the online conversation is less engaging. I guess in the case of the really positive connections, we share more than just an interest in naturism. Sense of humour, attitudes and general outlook on life to name a few. With the less than engaging connections, perhaps we simply share naturism and have nothing much else in common. Of course, this is all speculation as until you meet in person it can be more difficult to tell.
As well as the online chats, I have conversations with readers of my blog. Many comments are positive but some people disagree with my writing or with an aspect of it. My blog, my Twitter feed and my other online forums are written as personal opinion pieces, and as such will never be agreed upon by everyone. While I always enjoy the positive comments, sometimes I get to have conversations that challenge my thinking or assumptions. I hope that these help me to develop my communication skills, and in some cases, they may change my views.
Occasionally people will comment on my social media posts and give criticism or interpretations that I just can’t agree with. Some attitudes that are shared simply contradict my core beliefs. Despite this, I still enjoy the interaction as it means that people are at least reading my work.
I try and respond to all the comments I receive as I feel it would be hypocritical of me to expect people to read my opinions and then for me to ignore the replies. While I may not agree with some of the comments or attitudes, I am not arrogant enough to assume that my view of the world is correct and that other world views are not reasonable.
Writing this blog over the last 5 months or so has taught me that while I am not alone in my views, there are other views and opinions that are perfectly valid.
If everyone thought the same way, the world would be a very boring place. It is our differences that make the place interesting.
We can't get along with everyone all the time, but at least we can be civil to those with whom we don’t see eye to eye. There is no need to ridicule or belittle people with a different outlook on life, and while we can agree to disagree, we can still be courteous.
In many cases, we form opinions about people within the first few minutes or even seconds, of engaging with them. The trouble with online connections is that we often don’t have all of the unspoken communication cues that normally help us form our opinions of others. Written communication puts a filter on the spoken cues so we have even less information to base our judgements on.
Online communication often uses shortcuts, abbreviations and language that can confuse or cloud the original meaning and can lead to the misinterpretation of the message.
If someone says something that upsets us or we disagree with, we are far more likely to be defensive and critical of things they may say in the future, whereas if we warm to someone in those first critical moments, we are more likely to overlook any minor disagreement that comes along in later conversations.
Occasionally there will be an opportunity to meet face-to-face, someone, with whom you have been chatting online.
Of course, there are precautions to take the first time you meet an online connection in real life. We have no idea if they are whom they say they are, or indeed of their intentions. Probably not a great idea to invite them to your home, or to visit them at theirs. Choosing a public, open location such as a cafe or park for that first face-to-face is a common sense option. Tell others where you are going, and if possible take someone with you. I am speaking from a male perspective, and accept that the risks for females, especially single females can be much more of a consideration. No matter your gender, if you don’t feel right or something gives you concern, don’t be afraid to cancel the meeting or even get up and walk out.
Recently my partner and I travelled to the U.K. and while there we managed to catch up with a few of our online naturist contacts, face to face. I am happy to say that all of the people we met fell into the category of positive connections. In addition, while meeting with one couple, we were introduced to a few more naturists, one of whom I already followed on Twitter, an unexpected bonus.
I feel lucky and grateful that to date, meeting people from my online connections has been a truly positive experience, and I hope to meet IRL many more. I would like to think that those people we have met are now friends rather than just connections.
Thank you for reading, have a comfortable day.
Thanks for your thoughts Steve. As always, thoughtful and considered. I have often wondered about the irl thing - if it were to happen, how would that go? Glad your recent irl encounters were so enjoyable!
Totally agree. I’ve made so many good, and I hope lifelong friends on line and after meeting them.
I’m happy to be one of your UK visits.
The www has made the whole world a very small place now.