Use it or lose it.
Giving people a reason to join in.
I was recently thinking about the myriad of websites and resources that are available for and by the naturist community.
Most sites espouse the benefits of naturism and go to great pains to correct the many misconceptions that the naturist movement endures. Many list the numerous clubs and venues available as well as online communities and networks that people can join.
There are naturist networking sites, some more effective (or at least busier) than others. Some of these are gated by a subscription or accessed by invitation, to keep out the more sexually focussed content, with varying degrees of success.
There are many naturist sites out there, but none seem to be a genuinely unifying platform that we can all agree works. What seems to happen is that some people are unsatisfied with the way a specific platform behaves or with the community that it has created, and head off to set up a new platform that will address those issues.
Some of the naturist sites are very slow, and some have issues where they alert you to a new comment or post, but when you click on the link it goes nowhere and checking your original post to see the comment shows no new activity. Some hours later, the comment becomes available, but by then, it is too late. We have moved on.
It may be that there is a level of moderation required before posts are deemed appropriate and I get that, but don’t tell me about them until they are approved and posted.
Other naturist sites are difficult to navigate, and others post every update from every member to every post, and the timeline becomes too cluttered to easily navigate.
Some platforms are technically challenging and while some naturists have managed to get onto the Fediverse, there are so many factions and groups, navigation can be a challenge. It can be difficult to find connections that are on different servers, and many of us, I am sure, give up and put it in the too-hard basket.
Curiously, the Fediverse seems to be the model closest to what many are asking for. A platform where the user comes before the server, and the user is free to move to a different server that suits them. There are several naturist servers or instances, but the lack of awareness or understanding of this network seems to limit its growth in the naturist community.
Other sites are not particularly friendly to females or people identifying as anything other than straight males. I have heard comments from a few women that some sites have not been welcoming and that they have left because of comments made to them or a lack of moderation in dealing with creepy approaches.
Poor behaviour and inappropriate comments are inevitable consequences of social networks, especially when many people do not understand the nature or boundaries of naturism. The lack of moderation does nothing to enhance the naturist philosophy in the eyes of the newcomer or welcome new people to the group.
Having said all that, what is often missing from much of the criticism of naturist social sites is the acknowledgement of the amount of work and cost that goes into maintaining them and recognition for those who have created them. We are quick to criticise, but these sites, even if imperfect, are often a lifeline for naturists to connect and gain some strength in unity.
Twitter was a bastion for naturist connections until it imploded, and the content became less about that of those you followed and more about what an algorithm thought you wanted to see, or that which someone paid to put in front of you, probably content you weren’t interested in anyway.
Perhaps that is why Bluesky seems to have become the new town square for naturists and nudists. Sure there are issues, such as a lack of editing posts and no direct message function, but the current Bluesky platform, if properly curated using the various feeds and moderation settings is a much better space. You get the feed from the people you follow, no ads, and by tweaking your settings you can remove the majority of content that doesn’t interest you. Yes, Bluesky needs a code to join, but if you are a genuine naturist reading this, many of us already on the platform have codes to give out.
The problem seems to be that naturists and nudists the world over want different things from their social media. Some want to be able to post more explicit images, while others simply want to connect and converse with like-minded people from around the globe. Some are keen to promote naturism as a philosophy, while others are keen to debate the nuances of what naturism means and try to come up with a unified theory that encompasses all. The naturist community is becoming more fragmented.
Many naturist sites still have content that could arguably seem confrontational to a clothed person, and while seasoned naturists may pay it no mind, it may be too much for an overly sensitive public that has been repeatedly conditioned to see nudity as wrong.
The primary purpose of most naturist sites is to serve the naturist community, but whose responsibility is the recruitment of new naturists?
What seems to be missing from many naturist sites is an effective non-confrontational recruitment path for people yet to discover the freedoms and joy of simple non-sexual nudity.
I have long thought that the naturist movement needs to test the waters in less traditional areas rather than keep swimming in the same old pools and expecting new people to flock to the philosophy.
A recent, and by all accounts positive, activity has been the Füde experience events. These closed events gently introduce people to the experience of a range of well-being practices, including social nudity, in a safe space, allowing people to discover the many benefits for themselves without considering themselves nudists. Cost and location are currently barriers for many, but the concept is worth looking at.
More public events like naked beach or highway cleanups or naked bike rides allow the public at large to see naturists as people who care for the environment and are not just perverts who like to strip off. Separating the dress code from positive social behaviour may go some way to help normalise nudity within society. Perhaps these gateway activities might encourage people to look for other naked or clothing-optional activities.
It might not do much, but it has to be better than other efforts to date that have failed to integrate naturists into the wider community. Sitting smugly in our closets does nothing to help the naturist community gain acceptance as a valid collective group in society.
We are bemoaning the recent spate of naturist venues closing or being repurposed into clothed businesses and communities but these closures are inevitable as the numbers of people willing to support them dwindle.
For naturism to survive, the world needs more naturists. Not just closeted online naturist keyboard warriors, but people willing to support real-world naked events or maybe people prepared to admit that they enjoy being naked, even if it is in the privacy of their homes.
We must support our rights or lose our character, and with it, perhaps, our liberties. – James Monroe
Thank you for reading. Have a comfortable day.
A new step on my naturist journey.