The naturist microculture

There are these moments when you really feel as if you fit in. As if everyone is on the same wavelength. As if you’ve found your peers, your tribe. This may happen when you have a gathering with your old school friends or your besties. After an evening full of chats and laughter you wonder why it has taken more than two months to arrange this. Why your agenda is full of things you don’t really want to do, that makes it almost impossible to find the time to have a night like this.

 

This doesn’t only happen with people you know, by the way. Sometimes you can end up in a place with nothing but complete strangers and still feel as if you belong there. A place where everyone seems to share the same values. Like a naturist resort.

 

 

What are microcultures

We were listening to a podcast with Gary Vee the other day in which he describes microcultures as “short periods in space and time where you manage to create a strong bond with the people around you”. The examples he gave were festivals and cruises. Add naturist resorts to that list and the common denominator becomes even more obvious.

 

These are all secluded places, where you spend a limited amount of time, where you share a common interest with the others, and where the rules of society don’t seem to apply. This doesn’t mean that they all apply the same different set of rules. Unlike in the first two examples, it’s not common practice at a naturist resort to be drunk by 11 in the morning. On the other hand, neither is it common at a cruise or a festival to be naked all day. Instead, the etiquette is totally based on the shared values of the community.

 

 

Why do we feel so happy within a microculture?

It’s an interesting concept to think about. While humans have existed for about 300 000 years, only in the last couple of hundreds of years we have been able to meet people who don’t live within walking distance from our home. William Shakespeare had no idea what he was talking about when he wrote the words “the world is your oyster”. Today, more than ever, we have the possibility to meet any possible person in the world. We can see how they live, how they think, and what they feel. There’s so much we could learn from them. But where seems to be our happy place? Right there with those who think and do exactly the same as us.

 

Don’t worry, you can’t help it. It’s genetic. Humans have never been a solitary species. From the early beginning, our brain has been finetuning itself to work perfectly in tribal culture. We’re talking about many thousands of years of evolution. But evolution is slow, so it will take many more years before our brains get adapted to this new globalized world. Basically, we’re stuck with a tribal brain in a global culture.

 

While only a few centuries ago, the tribe in which we were born was the tribe we were stuck with for the rest of our lives, today we are much less dependent on a location. And that’s what makes it interesting because it also allows us to join multiple tribes. Today, you can be a New Yorker and a naturist and an eastern belly dancer.

 

 

You can always be a naturist

The downside of all this is that we’re also stuck with lots of people who are not part of our tribe. Have you ever wondered why you can see images of people in some remote village in Africa who have to walk 5 kilometres (one way) to get water of questionable quality from a well and are still happy and smiling? While you’re sitting at your office wondering if the clock is actually ticking backwards? That’s because the village people are in their tribe, and you are not.

 

More and more, we’ve started to use our microculture as a way of escapism. As our cabin in the woods, the place where we find back our sanity. As Gary Vee said, that “short period in space and time”. But it doesn’t have to be like that. Some people seem to see naturism as if it has an on/off switch. You become a naturist once you walk through the gates of the resort, and when you walk out again, you’re back to Average Joe on his way to the office with the backward ticking clock. While you could be a naturist every single moment of your life.

 

You see, something typical about naturists is that they spend some of their time without clothes. But that doesn’t mean that you’re not a naturist when you’re dressed. Because you still believe in the values, you still have the naturist mindset, and your tribe is still out there. While it may not be appreciated if you turn up naked at the office, you can practice naturism in different forms. Picking up some trash from the street is naturism. Treating the people around you with respect is naturism. Giving yourself a big smile in the mirror is naturism. You may even throw in a “Hi there, hot stuff!”, that’s not really naturism, but we all do that, right? Right?

 

 

The importance of hanging out with your tribe

Does that mean that you can stop going to resorts, clubs, and beaches, and just keep on practising your own form of naturism? If that makes you happy, we don’t see why not. But for most people, it won’t work like that. We’re stuck with that tribal brain, remember? It will keep telling us to search for the members of our tribe and give us little dopamine hits when we find them. It will make us feel inspired, connected, happy.

 

Luckily, thanks to modern communication, we can now connect with our tribe more easily than ever. And although we still value real-life encounters more than anything, we know that this too might just be because our brain hasn’t adjusted to the existence of the internet yet. After all, it doesn’t really matter where you hang out with your tribe. Whether it’s on a beach, in a resort, or in a Facebook group. The important thing is that you use these moments to re-energise enough to fully enjoy your time in the outside world as well.

 
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2 thoughts on “The naturist microculture”

  1. In general, building a tribe around an ideology often has the drawback that the sense of belonging is conditional on accepting the ideology, and that’s often not a perfect fit. If people feel pressured to conform in a way they’re not entirely comfortable with, the sense of tribal belonging quickly gives way to awkwardness and feeling judged. The key is often for everyone to understand when it’s ok to disagree, but that is easier said than done. I’m talking very generally but I’m curious if you’ve ever come across these issues, ie tribal expectations you don’t go along with, in a naturist context?

    Reply

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