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Naturism and social outreach
Hardly anyone besides naturists themselves and perhaps some of their acquaintances has any clear idea of what naturism is about.
I’m afraid subscribers may think this newsletter has disappeared. That possibility is greatly exaggerated, although it’s understandable. But things have been really hectic for the past several months, so I’ve been too busy to write. Hopefully, though, most of that’s now past. But reading everything I can about AI is one thing that’s not past. So expect to see more on the topic here. I promise it will be relevant to naturism. Although this post refers to AI, it’s actually about communicating with real people.
Do we really know how most people who aren’t naturists think about it - or whether they think about it at all? Probably not. Of course, if most people - especially in the U.S. - happen upon something about naturism or “nudism”, they probably think it is somehow connected with sexuality. Even if references to it are positive, they’ll probably suspect there’s a sexual aspect to it.
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That suspicion is understandable. After all, now that communal single-sex showers or even nudity in locker rooms are generally things of the past in the U.S., about the only time most adults are naked with one or more others is for a sexual purpose. Yet while having a healthy, fulfilling sex life is widely encouraged, simply being naked around others without a sexual purpose is difficult to understand - and if anyone younger than 18, even one’s own children, might be involved it’s a cause for alarm.
Naturists fully understand that keeping a healthy separation between naturism and sexuality is essential, despite what most people think. Anyone who participates in naturism with an obvious sexual agenda is definitely unwelcome - especially when children are present. The problem is that most people in the general public do not understand this crucial divergence between naturism and sexuality. So the obvious remedy is better education of the general public.
The problem that naturists face is figuring out how to provide this education. After all, it’s quite rare that reputable media perform this function. Perhaps just an article or two per year in publications like The Atlantic or the New York Times. And certainly not in visual media like TV or contemporary mainstream social media. Since almost all information about naturism that most people will encounter gives a very inadequate picture, it’s up to naturists themselves to supply the general public with correct and detailed information.
The problem there is that most naturists find it awkward to initiate a conversation about the subject with their friends and family. Why? Because of the strength of the general public’s prevalent misunderstandings and misconceptions about naturism. People in the general public need to learn that most naturists are ordinary people like themselves, their friends, and their neighbors. Except for the single difference that they find nonsexual nudity comfortable and enjoyable, either alone or with others.
Couldn’t existing naturist organizations perform this educational function? They certainly could, but almost always they don’t. That’s for various reasons, such as: (1) Most people know nothing about these organizations. (2) Even if people come across information from these organizations, they have little reason to find it reliable and credible. (3) There’s no two-way interaction between the general public and naturist organizations that - if it existed - would allow for clarification of specific issues and concerns someone might have about naturism.
In some countries, there are naturist organizations that do a decent public relations job. British Naturism is a good example. Some helpful things that BN does include (1) Sponsoring and promoting activities open to the general public, such as the Great British Skinnydip; (2) Arranging for nude swimming opportunities at local swimming pools; (3) Arranging and promoting naturist activities at traditional amusement parks; (4) Holding events benefiting charitable organizations at public gardens. These examples show how BN makes a fine effort to promote naturism to the public.
While such things certainly increase public awareness of naturism and present it positively, they can’t adequately inform most of the public about what naturism is, what attracts people to get involved in it, and how it enhances the lives of its participants. But there’s little opportunity to clear up common misunderstandings or learn what it’s actually like to be a practicing naturist. Mostly what’s lacking is a direct opportunity to meet actual naturists and learn what they’re like.
What can be done concretely to address this outreach problem effectively? Once again, artificial intelligence tools can actually give useful ideas. Of course, naturists themselves have proposed good ideas from time to time. But mostly there has been little or no follow-through - especially from existing naturist organizations.
[Aside: I spend a lot of time reading about AI. So I’m well aware that there’s much concern about current issues and potential risks associated with it. Like naturism itself, it’s a subject most people know little about. But I hope readers will keep an open mind, since I think AI can be useful for naturism, as I think the following discussion will illustrate. It offers an example of using AI in connection with naturism.]
ChatGPT (and other chatbots) can make surprisingly good suggestions on the outreach problem. I posed the following question: “Naturism in the U.S. has declined in popularity over the years. What are five things that could be done to improve its popularity?” This prompt could be repeated many times with slightly different results, but here are 3 examples:
Naturism or nudism is a lifestyle that embraces nudity and promotes body acceptance, social nudity, and the preservation of natural environments. While naturism in the U.S. has seen a decline in popularity over the years, there are several things that could be done to improve its popularity. Here are five potential ideas:
1. Promote body positivity: Naturism promotes body acceptance and positivity, and focusing on these aspects could help attract more people to the lifestyle. Organizing body-positive events, such as body painting or photography workshops, could help break down the stigma around nudity and attract more people to the naturist community.
2. Increase awareness: Many people are unaware of what naturism is and what it entails. Increasing awareness through public events, social media, and other forms of advertising could help attract more people to the lifestyle. Hosting open houses or informational sessions could also help answer people's questions and dispel any myths or misconceptions.
3. Provide family-friendly activities: Many people may be hesitant to try naturism because of concerns about exposing their children to nudity. Providing family-friendly activities, such as hiking or swimming, could help address these concerns and make naturism more accessible to families.
4. Develop more nudist resorts: There are currently only a few dozen nudist resorts in the U.S., and many people may be hesitant to try naturism if they don't have a nearby place to do so. Developing more nudist resorts in different locations across the country could help make naturism more accessible to a wider audience.
5. Foster a sense of community: Naturism is often about more than just being nude; it's also about fostering a sense of community and belonging. Hosting regular events, such as potlucks, movie nights, or game nights, could help build a stronger sense of community among naturists and attract more people to the lifestyle.
1. Increase Education: One way to improve the popularity of naturism in the U.S. is by educating people about the benefits and values of naturism. This could be done through workshops, seminars, and other educational events that focus on the philosophy, principles, and lifestyle of naturism. It could also be helpful to provide accurate information about the legal status of naturism in various states and the safety protocols that are in place at naturist venues.
2. Provide Safe Spaces: Another important step towards improving the popularity of naturism is by creating safe spaces for people to practice it. This could involve creating more naturist resorts, parks, and beaches that are welcoming to all people. These venues should have proper security measures in place to ensure the safety of visitors.
3. Build Community: Building a community of naturists is another way to improve the popularity of naturism. This could involve creating online forums or social media groups where naturists can connect and share experiences. It could also involve organizing local events and gatherings where naturists can come together and socialize.
4. Change Perceptions: To improve the popularity of naturism, it is important to change negative perceptions about it. This could be done by promoting positive media coverage of naturism, highlighting the benefits of naturism for mental and physical health, and debunking common myths and misconceptions about naturism.
5. Address Barriers: Finally, to improve the popularity of naturism, it is important to address the barriers that prevent people from practicing it. This could involve addressing issues like body shaming and body image issues, providing affordable access to naturist venues, and creating more inclusive spaces for people of all ages, genders, and body types.
1. Increase education and awareness: Many people may not be aware of what naturism is and its benefits. Therefore, increasing education and awareness about naturism can help improve its popularity. This can be done through various mediums, such as online platforms, social media, and public events.
2. Create more naturist-friendly spaces: Naturists require spaces where they can be free and enjoy the natural surroundings without fear of persecution or discrimination. Creating more naturist-friendly spaces such as beaches, parks, and resorts can help increase the popularity of naturism.
3. Foster a sense of community: One of the main attractions of naturism is the sense of community it fosters. Therefore, organizing events and activities that promote social interaction and community building can help increase the popularity of naturism.
4. Address safety concerns: Safety concerns such as sexual harassment and voyeurism can be a major deterrent for people interested in naturism. Addressing these concerns through effective policies and regulations can help increase the popularity of naturism.
5. Collaboration with other movements: Collaborating with other movements that share similar values can help increase the popularity of naturism. For example, naturism shares similar values with the environmental movement, and collaboration between the two can help promote naturism to a wider audience.
There’s nothing too surprising here, and many naturists have had similar ideas. Existing naturist organizations have attempted to implement some of these ideas. If you’ve read various articles from naturist organizations and/or naturist writers, you’ve probably seen most of these ideas often. The problem is coming up with practical, concrete actions to carry out these suggestions. I could have asked the chatbot for more specific details, but instead I’ll offer my own ideas.
Notice that all three responses suggested increasing education and/or awareness of what naturism is. But exactly how should that be done? Most naturist organizations do little outreach to the general public. Sometimes they issue press releases or suggest topics for news media to cover. Or maybe a freelancer decides to write something interesting. Occasionally that results in stories, e. g. about body positivity or the physical and mental health benefits of naturism. Naturist writers preach that gospel (over and over!). But how effective are such opinions from basically unknown people? Almost no non-naturists are even aware of what they have to say, let alone take it seriously if they encounter it.
Typical readers, if they notice articles about naturism or nonsexual nudity at all, probably think something like, “Yeah, but exactly how does that relate to me? Exactly what should I do to use this advice? There must be more to it than just going around naked - even if I could do that without my family and friends thinking I’m nuts.” Then, without more concrete specifics, they go on to read something else or go browsing social media.
There’s more to “education” than simply reading a few articles or even a whole book. What’s missing is an actual human connection - specifically with a particular person or persons. Preferably one or more individuals who seem sensible and rational. The kind of people one might want to know better, possibly even be friends with. In our society, social nudity seems to almost everyone like a very eccentric and bizarre idea. Maybe even a perversion. So people need to discover that naturists aren’t perverts or akin to space aliens but are instead just fairly normal people who happen to have realized the pleasures and benefits of nonsexual nudity, whether privately or with others.
Here’s one possible example of how to spread understanding of naturism to the general public. Let’s assume we have a metropolitan area that’s large enough for there to be more than a few people in the community who are open-minded and might be interested in naturism - if they knew more about it. In particular, people who don’t automatically assume naturism and social nudity are weird and of interest only to very “unusual” people. Then the problem is how to find people like that who’d be interested in hearing active naturists talk about why they enjoy nonsexual nudity.
Assume, further, that there are one or more naturist clubs (either landed or non-landed) in the area. Or possibly just a small group of naturists who regularly enjoy social nudity with each other. Any area like that will certainly have a number of venues such as motels, hotels, or restaurants that rent out private rooms for small-group meetings lasting an hour or two. Rental rates are generally not that high - perhaps $50 to $75 per hour, depending on size and quality. (Refreshments, snacks, or full meals, if desired, would be extra, of course.)
So just a few people from the club or social group can easily schedule a suitable place to which they can invite anyone from the community who’s curious about naturism. A meeting room in a landed club could be used, although non-naturists might be less comfortable in that environment. But possibly except in that case, both naturist presenters and attendees would be normally dressed.
If at all possible, at least one of the presenters should be a woman - perhaps one who works at a naturist club if there aren’t any other female volunteers. Hopefully, there will be women in the audience, and they’d want to know women’s perspectives on naturism.
The purpose of the meeting, naturally, would be to explain what naturism really is, why it’s enjoyed, and how it’s not at all as offbeat or eccentric as most of the public usually assumes. A meeting would begin with presenters telling how they got into naturism and why they enjoy it. But most of the time should be devoted to handling audience opinions and questions. Some time could be allowed at the end for more informal 1-on-1 discussions between presenters and guests.
Audio-visual equipment, if available, would be very helpful, since pictures and videos have much more impact than mere words - especially with something like naturism. Historically, images of partial/full nudity have been taboo in most of U.S. society - but anyone attending an informational meeting about naturism probably won’t be very shocked. And younger people, especially, often exchange naked selfies as part of the dating process.
There’s much more that should be fleshed out about this idea for outreach to the general public. The most important matter to be addressed is how to publicize such a meeting. But this article isn’t the place to get into such details.
There is a second idea that’s expressed in all three chatbot responses, namely sense of community. That’s completely unsurprising, since - except for people who enjoy nudity exclusively in their own homes - naturism is, in essence, a social activity. Thriving as a naturist generally requires enjoying it with others outside one’s immediate family. And doing that for most people requires making an effort to seek out others.
Normally that has to be done on a person-to-person or family-to-family basis. So it’s necessary to work within one’s existing social network to inform others who’re likely to be open-minded about one’s interest in social nudity. That’s scary for most people, of course, but it’s essentially required for spreading interest in and acceptance of naturism. Some ideas about this have been mentioned in previous editions of this newsletter. But it’s a large topic that should be addressed separately.
The takeaway here is that working with chatbots can help fill in details for addressing both outreach to the general public and promoting naturism in one’s own social network - as well as many other ways to advance naturism.
As for using chatbots like ChatGPT, it’s important to learn how to get the most out of them. They can be great tools for brainstorming ideas, one step at a time, by using a series of good “prompts”. 6 Tips for Using ChatGPT to Brainstorm Better is an article that could be helpful. (Or just ask a chatbot how to write effective prompts.)
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