wow: face to face

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of finally meeting a woman with whom I’d only had email conversations about clothes free life. She and I were introduced via email by a mutual friend, another young woman who lives in my city. This mutual friend is a very close friend of mine, basically my sister, someone with whom I’ve talked about my clothes free life. Although she doesn’t engage in clothes free life, she follows my posts on Instagram, and I share all my stories with her when we hang out. About a year ago, she was moved to tell this lady about my clothes free life, and this woman wound up adopting it for herself.
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naturism philosophy nudist practice and the politics of disagreement

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.

women’s wednesdays: hashtag…where are we?

Over the past month or so, conversation around women’s participation in the clothes free community has risen to the top of the discussion plate across various platforms. These discussions prompted clothesfreelife.com to establish Women on Wednesday, a weekly endeavor to contribute to the conversation around women and clothes free life. Each week, we will look at women’s (lack of) participation in clothes freedom and topfreedom around the world and consider the issue from a number of perspectives.  Read more

Announcing the beta of clothesfreelife.net

We are pleased to announce that our new upcoming community site clothesfreelife.net is in beta test phase. Last year we announced we were going to bring you clothesfreelife.com 2.0 the next generation web site for the clothes free community. We had an ambitious plan to build a comprehensive site with all the news a great articles you have come to expect as well as a community site with discussion boards, groups, galleries and more. Well as it turned out without outside financial support we were not able secure a fast enough server to be able to port the news site into the community site.  Further more combing all those pieces ended up creating a slow hardly usable site. So we went back to the drawing board. 

We noticed that page magazine sites separated there continue and community sites some decided to do the same. We refreshed the look and feel of the news site to look more like the web magazine we are building. We went back to the drawing board and developed a separate sister community site, clothesfreelife.net. This community site will feature interactive discussion boards interest groups, photo galleries and more.  Some content from clothesfreelife.com will be linked from clothesfreelife.net and that will grow over time.

There are couple new things being added to the community site, first a book store with all the naturist themed books you should be reading and apparel. Yeah I know the site clothes free life. But on the occasion when you need something casual to wear why not wear some let folks know you are living clothes free.

Right now clothesfreelife.net is in beta phase. That means we are testing out the features and functions of the site. We could use a few select intentional folks to put the site through is paces. If you are interested in being one of those people contact us. Not everyone will be chosen for this haste but we do need people who access the site in many different ways. In the mean time you can head to clothesfreelife.net and sign up to be notified when the site is ready to open. Stays tuned.

Can the clothes free community survive if we go off and hive

Many months ago last winter in fact I posted a poll on the state of fragmentation in the clothes free community. I have not taken it down though I have thought about it many times. A recent post on the blog for a clothes free group geared towards young adults made me realize it continued relevance. It also got me think can the clothes free community survive if it’s simply break off is special interest groups?

American society and to a lesser degree North American society has long tradition of being more individualistic and less institutionally connected. We show a strong penchant for grouping together with our “own” kind (an innate human tendency) and less of a multi generational bent. So it is not at all surprising when any group decides to restrict its membership to a single group of people in order to cultivate a sense of belonging and community for those who fit the group criteria. Consider this recent comment on the YNA blog.

… it needs to come to the realization that there is adult nudism, gay nudism, young nudism, and public nudism (Bare to Breakers, WNBR, etc). There is no longer a “one size fits all” definition.

The question arises can the clothes free community survive if it adopts this social pattern as standard operating procedures? If each special interest group hives off into its own what then will hold the community together. How can we rally support for any clothes free cause if all we have are special “clubs”? Is this the future? Gay naturist, young naturists, straight naturists, Christian naturists, senior naturists, white naturists, student naturists, rich naturists all gather in their own groups to cultivate a sense of community while the clothes free community as a whole disintegrates? Is that strategy to get new people in clothes life bode well for the long term future of the clothes free community?

I ask all these question because I think what is happening in the clothes free community reflects a bigger social trend. I believe leave that trend towards hiving with thinner and thinner networks of people sorting in group of people only like ourselves will have huge ramifications for the clothes free communities.

Instead of focusing on our differences and the challenges they present. I think we should try to find common ground to bring groups together. I realize it is easier to grow community if those belonging to the group are like us this principle has been used for many years in many different circles to grow groups expediently. But is it effective? Is it effective when we realize that these groups often wax and wane over time and if they disappear and there is no connection beyond the group what happens to the clothes free community then? Is it effective when this approach reinforces the kind of separation that the clothes free community experiences from broader society? Is it effective to reinvent the wheel to reach every new group we want to engage in the clothes free life?

Maybe we should take a page for the South African naturist playbook and focus on regional as opposed to demographic groups with a strong connection to an umbrella group. Most of the decision making and oversight should remain with the regional groups so special regional issues can be addressed. This approach I believe allowed the recent establishment South Africa’s first official clothes ing optional beach.

The alternative in my opinion is the clothes free communities disintegrates into a fractured powerless and ineffective set of cliques and special interest groups which eventually become irrelevant. So what do you think?

A house divided cannot stand -what’s up with the clothes free community

Recently a clothes free blogger Naturist Philosopher made a very compelling analysis of the state of the clothes free community, indicating reasons why it was not thriving. I have read and observed this and some of the other commentary within the clothes free community for sometime. So I thought to share my observations on the matter. Note:This is my observation and not intended to match anyone else reality. It may well be biased or incomplete but it is still mine.

20140218-175614.jpgAbraham Lincoln in his speech A House Divided made as candidate for the U.S. senate aptly describes the current state of the clothes free community in my opinion. Drawing of the teachings of Jesus, Lincoln made the case for the end of the division in the country regarding slavery. Leveraging the thoughts of the previously mentioned blogger, I believe the only way the clothes free community will thrive is to reduce internal division.

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