Politics – the total complex of relations between people living in society -Merriam Webster Dictionary
A few days ago I had what I thought was a civil though dynamic conversation on Twitter about best first visit situation clothing optional or clothes free it was born out of a tip I gave on our recent podcast about planning for summer clothes free living. Without having listened to the podcast some parties launched into a defense of the clothes free side to in their words “show the other side.” After a vigorous and cordial rapartee, we agreed to disagree. I thought the conversation ended on a good note. However I discovered shortly after one of the parties to the conversation promptly unfollowedoir account. The other has blocked our account and the accounts of others who disagreed with their view. I observed the same pattern occur between two other naturist account one of whom was reacting to a question about the terminology of naturist or nudist.
Judging by that observed pattern over the past few days one could say that there is a segment of the naturist/nudist community at least on Twitter that is in the throes of what social scientists call a confirmation bias.
Confirmation bias, also called confirmatory bias or myside bias, is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one’s beliefs or hypotheses, while giving disproportionately less consideration to alternative possibilities. It is a type of cognitive bias and a systematic error of inductive reasoning. Wikipedia
It seems to this observer/participant that some of us only interact with others who think like us. We have lost the art of social discourse A loss which deprives us of much wisdom.
In his book the Big Sort, author Bill Bishop suggests this social segmentation may be in part the cause of the polarized society in which we live. Because we only hear ideas that fit our existing beliefs, we are ill-equipped to engage other with views different from our own and tend drive deeper into our own way of thinking. The result is another quality of confirmation bias which gives disproportionately less value to the perspective of those who do not agree with us.
As people seek out the social settings they prefer—as they choose the group that makes them feel the most comfortable—Americans segregate themselves into their own political worlds, blocking out discordant voices and surrounding themselves with reassuring news and companions.
The Bishop, Big Sort pg 36
It seems that disagreement represents an existential threat to those whose beliefs or values are the subject of debate. The philosopher Aristotle was right with this oft credited statement. A skill I think we have lost in western society.
The irony is all this comes from strongly self-identified naturists. It is happening in a community which claims as one of its values being open-minded. A community that prides itself on respecting the perspectives of others while asking that from society for itself. I might suggest from what I observed that it’s more like I am open-minded as long as we agree and respectful as long as perspectives are the same. Is it any wonder we are have difficulties engaging people in broader society? Maybe they aren’t engaged when we do the same thing to them, and each other that we ask them to not do to us!
So here are some thoughts to ponder as we continue to explore this conundrum of duality. They are my thoughts shaped by my experience and observations. Engage them, entertain them if you wish, ignore if you’d rather.
- When naturists/nudists tell society we are egalitarian and espouse the value benefit of naturism to help in “being true to yourself” but then dismiss another’s perspective as invalid we all seem disingenuous.
- When naturists/nudists tell the rest of society to be open-minded to our way of life but can’t have disagreement with another naturist without blocking out their opinion we all appear hypocritical.
- When naturists/nudists challenges the broader society to not force us to live by their traditions but respect ours but cloister exclusively behind our own (possibly outdated ones) we all look duplicitous.
- Embracing diversity is more than saying come be like me more than tolerating someone of a different skin color or social class it’s also embracing diverse thoughts.
- If we can’t be in the same space and have differing opinions or hold space for people who are different and have different views, how does the practice or philosophy survive in a world of increasingly divergent thoughts, views and perspectives.
I do not share this by way of trying to shame anyone or holding myself out as any expert in naturism philosophy and nudist practice. But I do know that there have been some I’ve engaged who have been hesitant to interact with the naturist/nudist community because of what they perceive to be a clique or cult like attitude from some. I share to hold out hope that through vibrant conversation and bringing many divergent thoughts to the table a path forward can be carved into a vibrant future naturism, nudism and the clothes free way of life.