According to a recent press release, True Nudists, which bills itself as the online social media site for nudists and those who prefer a clothing-optional lifestyle, has now reached the milestone of attracting 200,000 members, at an uptake of 50,000 a year.
That’s a lot of naturists.
TN isn’t the only social network for naturists out there. Off the top of my head, theres also The NOOK, Nudist Clubhouse, Nudist Space, Skinbook (the revived version – the original Skinbook was taken down by its then-owner), Nudist-Friend-Finder, not to mention various naturist-related dating sites.
Are any of these sites really of any value to naturists? Well, your experience of them will really depend on what you expect to get out of them when you join. I can only speak from my own experience, which is that I’m not really sure it’s all worth the bother.
I’ve had a profile on True Nudists for a couple of months now and, honestly, it doesn’t get used much. That’s not meant as a criticism of the site; but I’ve had much more success in building up a network of naturist friends using more universal social networks – Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and of course this blog.
True Nudists, though, is supposed to be a more exclusive venue; naturists-only. The press release claims that True Nudists is provides “a safe online community where both male and female nudists feel comfortable sharing pictures and life stories in an attempt to meet others who think similarly.” I can only hope that they are working hard to live up to that.
From what I’ve seen, True Nudists has some flaws, although to be charitable to the site and its creators, I don’t think the flaws are of their making. Rather, they are flaws which you are liable to get anywhere on the internet where you are trying to create a network between a large number of people who might be naked.
When it comes to things that happen on the site, my biggest problem is the way site members react and respond to the presence of women, especially young ones. While actually abusive behaviour is not tolerated by the True Nudists administrators, there is a lot of over-attention and what you might call “soft harrassment” of women on the site.
For example, users can comment on one another’s photographs; if a female member posts an image (especially a nude one) there will be a lot of men commenting about how beautiful she is. These may seem harmless compliments but added up, on every photo, by every young woman, and it can give an overall impression that there is a peanut gallery of men on the site who are just there to enjoy looking at female members with their clothes off. I know women who have left the site because they felt bombarded by messages from men; again, nothing particularly unpleasant, but in terms of sheer volume, it can become overwhelming. The same is true in the site’s chat-room; if a woman is there, if she is young and fairly attractive and nude and chooses to turn on her webcam, you can bet the focus of all discussion in the chat room will turn to her. Meanwhile, between males there is a lot less interaction.
As I’ve said, I don’t blame the True Nudists site for that. It is just one of the disappointing things about the way people on the internet are prone to behave. It has its parallels in things which happen on Facebook and Twitter and dating sites. And if the press release is accurate, True Nudists do seem to at least be aware of some of these sorts of problems and mindful of the security needs of their members.
But until people can behave with maturity, respect for equality, and above all restraint when it comes to the way they treat naturist women on the internet, I don’t think “the nudist social network” is something I really need to be a part of. At least on mainstream social networks, women can use them without immediately advertising to all male users that they like to go naked. There is still harassment, any number of women will be able to tell you that; but it isn’t harassment related specifically to their involvement in naturism, by other people who would claim themselves to be “true” naturists.