Some naturists have tried to use social media (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, et al) to present to the general public their positive feelings about nudity in order to improve public attitudes towards their lifestyle. But how effective has the attempt been, and how effective is it likely to be? I’m inclined to think the answer is: not very much.
There are obvious reasons why using social media is unlikely to be very helpful for changing the attitudes of non-naturists, at least in the foreseeable future. Here are some of those reasons:
- Most popular social media, like Facebook and the others, don’t allow full-frontal naturist nudity in photographic images and videos – even though naturists are thoroughly comfortable with such images as long as they aren’t sexually suggestive. Naturists believe that seeing the unsexualized naked bodies of consenting naturists is perfectly reasonable. But they’re regularly penalized or banned from social media if they use such images or videos. Hostile treatment of normal naturist nudity by social media sends a clear message that naturism itself is improper and unacceptable.
- Social nudity – or even private nudity with hardly any exceptions – is generally regarded as abnormal (at best) by large segments of the population almost everywhere. Naturists hope that rational arguments about the goodness and wholesomeness of naturist nudity could significantly change that opinion. But the prevalence of negative attitudes towards nudity means there’s a high barrier to changing the opinions of most people on the matter.
- Some naturists believe it’s not especially important to persuade non-naturists to become naturists, using social media or otherwise. They believe instead that it’s sufficient for the health of naturism that the general public becomes more accustomed to reading what naturists have to say or seeing unsexualized images of social nudity. And as a result that more of the public will become more understanding, tolerant, and accepting of naturism.
- Unfortunately, however, non-naturists seldom pay much attention to the positive things naturists say about their lifestyle on social media. Even on Twitter, nudity is categorized as “sensitive” content, requiring an opt-in to be seen, although it’s generally allowed (except in profiles). But most people not actually looking for naked images are unlikely to follow naturist accounts. And apart from the pictures, how much can be adequately explained in a single tweet? There’s just little chance that even the best posts by naturists will actually be noticed and persuasive.
Naturist use of social media might make a difference if it persuades additional non-naturists to form a more positive opinion of naturism. Some might try naturism and then adopt a naturist lifestyle, at least in a limited way. Best case: some become enthusiastic naturists. A larger proportion of the general population could then actually know one or more naturists in “real life” – provided those new naturists are open about it. If enough people learned that at least one relative or good friend has become a naturist, that would make a difference.
If social media were reasonably helpful in promoting naturism and persuading more people to become naturists, then there could be more naturists on social media to advocate for their lifestyle – and hence social media would become more tolerant towards naturism and less hostile to it. There would be a “virtuous circle”, a positive feedback effect
But that seems like putting the cart before the horse. What if there were other, more effective ways to persuade enough people to take naturism more seriously and begin enjoying social nudity themselves?
There is, in fact, one more effective means of persuading people to try naturism. That is for naturists to curtail their general secretiveness and to become more open about their lifestyle. Two good consequences follow from that. First, open naturists can show their lifestyle causes them neither shame nor embarrassment. So they can be much more persuasive about the goodness and wholesomeness of naturism with actual friends and acquaintances who know, respect, and trust them in real life. What people who aren’t favorable towards naturism say about it can simply be discounted. Second, when naturists become open about their lifestyle, other naturists they know are more likely to follow their lead.
People who’re currently naturists can use social media effectively to communicate with other naturists – their main audience and the audience most likely to take seriously what they say. And what should be communicated is the importance of openness about being a naturist as a key to success, since openness enables them to persuade others who trust them about the virtues of naturism. That’s probably the most effective way to actually change opinions about naturism.
Sociological studies have demonstrated that persuasion from sources that are known and trusted in real life is more effective in changing people’s opinions about controversial topics than either opinions from social media “influencers” or theoretical arguments.
Changing public opinions about naturism has many more benefits besides simply gaining more freedom to show what naturism is really like, and therefore persuading more people to try it themselves. When people try naturism and enjoy it, they’re likely to include more nudity in their own lives. So there are more customers for naturist clubs and resorts leading to more and better clubs and resorts. And more pressure to add new clothing-optional beaches. And more tolerance for nudity in hiking and camping areas. And more people who’re actually naked at WNBR and similar events.
A blog like this one is, of course, somewhat in the category of social media. Probably, though, there aren’t many readers here who are not at least a little interested in naturism and social nudity. Hopefully, some readers will be able to pass along a little of what they’ve read here to others they know personally who might be open-minded about nudity.