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03 June 2011 @ 01:36 pm
When you talk about "feeling safe" socially, what does that mean to you? Is your default feeling "safe" or "unsafe"? What changes that feeling?
Randy Smithrandysmith on June 3rd, 2011 06:14 pm (UTC)
Being around people who have known me long enough that if I do something stupid it won't strongly affect their opinions of me. (They may also need to be people who have a plus-side-of-neutral opinion of me--I'm not sure.) My default feeling's "unsafe".

born from jets!!!catness on June 3rd, 2011 06:40 pm (UTC)
Safe socially? I don't think there is such a place. For most, safety == security. If you need your social space to make you feel safe, then the potential for the rug to be yanked out from under you is always going to be there. Someone will say something dumb or unkind and you'll get emotionally torn up, and the only fix for that is to be secure in yourself *without* the need for social safe space.

However, if you need everybody to be the same or to agree with you in order to have safe social space, then maybe a little unsafety will do you good. Ya know, to maybe match with people who walk around unsafe, all the time. Could bring empathy, even.

In my world, there is no safe social space. I'm too "other", even in places where I look like I'm not. All it takes is Not Pretending for about 30 seconds to put myself in stark social contrast. That being said, there are definitely some places that are more dangerous than others, and it becomes less about a feeling of safety or belonging in an otherwise mostly physically safe space and more about "get your ass out of the street before major bad shit happens".

[Fixed some extraneous verbage.]

Edited at 2011-06-04 02:14 pm (UTC)
Statistical Outlier in All  Studieschaiya on June 3rd, 2011 06:53 pm (UTC)
Hm. Bookmarking to ponder in my own journal sometime soon. You ask good questions!
yixyix on June 3rd, 2011 07:14 pm (UTC)
I'm going to exclude obvious non-safe environments of bigotry, violence, or other hatred from my reasoning below.

For me feeling safe is generally linked to trust. But strangely enough, not trust in the other people, but trust in my ability to judge the other people. If I don't feel like I understand the motivations or general likely behavior of the people I'm around, I don't feel safe.

An extreme example might be, is someone in my group likely to take video of me doing something dumb and send it to youtube?

But it could be smaller things like, "if I share a story that includes sex, is the person going to tell me it's TMI! and get offended?"

I can be in social atmospheres where both things are likely and feel safe if I understand the behaviors/rules/social norms of the person/group. Also, if I am surprised too many times in a social group, I start to doubt my ability to judge and protect myself and need to work on that before I feel completely "safe" again. I have not experienced much of this in the last decade, but it still happens in minor ways every once in a while.

For me feeling safe and being comfortable are different things.

Edited at 2011-06-03 07:16 pm (UTC)
veek on June 3rd, 2011 07:15 pm (UTC)
I think my definition of safety includes (but isn't necessarily limited to) knowing that the interlocutor(s) will respect whatever parameters I set on my own interaction with the world. That my understanding of my social environment and its understanding of, and interaction with, me are congruent.

My default is feeling safe, which has gotten me hurt more than once but is still, for me, the best way to be in the world. Maybe the only way. My feeling of safety may change when my trust has been violated, but the reason and method around that plays a huge role. If I trust someone with a non-life-threatening secret, for example, and they just truly let it slip to someone else while having an otherwise good track record, that doesn't change whether I feel safe with them.

I think it comes down to, safety = trust, and trustworthiness. This theory is supported by the fact that there's only a handful of people with whom I don't feel safe; they include my mom and my ex-husband.
unintentional baitredheadedmuse on June 3rd, 2011 07:39 pm (UTC)
If I feel unsafe socially, which is rare, it's generally because I'm uncomfortable with someone's sexual/physical boundaries in a social setting. I don't think that's quite what you meant, but it's what came to mind when I thought about socializing and feeling safe or not.

I default to feeling safe, socially and otherwise. I assume people have good intentions towards me, and tend to act with integrity and maturity. Most of the time, I'm right! My friends are awesome.

metagnatmetagnat on June 3rd, 2011 07:46 pm (UTC)
ETA: I forgot to address the first question - what does it mean to feel safe. This is the most complicated thing you asked, I think, and the hardest to answer. The best answer I can give is that to feel safe socially, to me, means I will be accepted as a valid person, accepted as acting in good faith, treated well and listened to. It is feeling like I will be able to be friendly and receive friendliness in return. It can be enhanced by being in places and situations I've been before doing activities I am confident in.

The rest is what I originally wrote:

My default is feeling unsafe, socially. What changes that is the number of people at a social event, how well I know those people (do they behave in ways I can predict) and how well I like those people (do they behave in ways I enjoy).

Also central to how safe I'm feeling is how I feel: have I gotten enough sleep, have I eaten well, how late at night is it...things like that.

This is why I don't always enjoy parties and I rarely go clubbing but I'll try almost anything at brunch.

Edited at 2011-06-03 07:50 pm (UTC)
tickles, the angry lemurclara_girl on June 3rd, 2011 07:54 pm (UTC)
i've never really considered it!

if i were to consider feeling safe in a social environment, i have to consider what would make me feel unsafe (not merely uncomfortable or bored).

the following would have to be compromised: physical safety, emotional well-being, support.

i have been in physically unsafe situations in socially safe environments (harassment at a gathering, for instance). but i tend to consider places in which i am usually social to be 'safe' (or else, why would i be there?)

in theo ther direction, i feel very emotionally safe when i am very tired (say, at a very long gig, or something similarly draining both physically and emotionally) and i CAN let my filters down. when i can say whatever is on my mind, and other people are respectful and kind despite the collective exhaustion, i know i've found some damn good friends :)

i have no idea if i've answered your question. it's a funny one to me. (because i AM pretty social, and have been very specific about who i hang out with so that it is not a negative experience.)

Misanthropic extrovertdbang on June 3rd, 2011 08:18 pm (UTC)
Answered before reading other comments: safety for me depends on feeling that the people around me know, like and respect me and WANT me there; that I don't have to be super careful about what i say because I will be given the benefit of the doubt; that no one there will do anything malicious that hurts me.

In some contexts, it also means that the social rules are clear so I'm not wondering if I'm screwing it up. It may also mean that I'm not being hit on or otherwise put into socially awkward positions.
Rowan: Summermzrowan on June 3rd, 2011 09:39 pm (UTC)
safety for me depends on feeling that the people around me know, like and respect me and WANT me there; that I don't have to be super careful about what i say because I will be given the benefit of the doubt; that no one there will do anything malicious that hurts me.

I think this hits it on the head for me, with the addition of: that people there will also avoid unintentionally hurting me by making an effort (commensurate with the depth/length of our friendship) to think through their actions and put themselves in my shoes; that people will look out for me and make an effort to mitigate hurt coming my way.

My default feeling is unsafe, so it always takes time for me to feel safe, and it's always an ongoing process.
Stunt Double for the Patriarchystarphire on June 4th, 2011 01:08 am (UTC)
I think this is very close to what I'd say. Though the last part is more about comfort vs. discomfort: I probably won't feel unsafe from having the sense that the social rules aren't clear, or that I'm being put into a socially awkward situation (unless someone seems to be doing it deliberately, maliciously) because such things happen by chance sometimes and it's not (usually) on purpose.
Elizabeth Hunterlillibet on June 3rd, 2011 08:21 pm (UTC)
This isn't something I talk about, actually. That's not a very meaningful term for me. Comfortable vs. stressful is closer to my vocabulary. These days I get out to large group gatherings so rarely that I don't spend that time on potentially stressful situations.
David Policardpolicar on June 4th, 2011 02:12 am (UTC)
I don't really talk about feeling safe socially, I guess.
I don't think I quite do feel safe socially.

Which feels a little ridiculous to say... I mean, it's not like I think I'm unsafe socially.

I don't think I understand this subject particularly well.
Renata Piper: usb ooh-la-lalyonesse on June 4th, 2011 04:31 am (UTC)
my default is "unsafe". i've been everything from lied about to emotionally betrayed to violently attacked in social spaces, and by people from whom i'd expected better treatment.

i don't know what changes that. i guess right now i'm not socializing much :/
Renata Piper: networklyonesse on June 4th, 2011 03:54 pm (UTC)
*lol* and then some anonymous coward copied out this comment and took it over to turil's community whole_e, for the purpose of telling turil how much "healthier" she is than i.

how safe would *you* feel?
The Great Laurenhatsbylaurenhat on June 4th, 2011 07:43 am (UTC)
This isn't a term I would generally apply to social situations. I guess I always feel safe unless there's a not specifically social reason to feel unsafe - e.g., someone or something that seems likely to do harm. Sometimes I feel stressed, awkward, or uncomfortable.
Deloresdebsquared on June 4th, 2011 01:44 pm (UTC)

Interesting. Reading through comments, at first I was thinking that "safe" socially meant "comfortable." Then thinking about how part of "comfortable" for me is being around a wide range of types of people-- it can feel claustrophobic to only spend time with a homogenous group. Then I remembered how I can feel like I'm walking on eggshells when I have to consciously think about not outing myself, either because of potential long term harm to me or hurtful discomfort to the other person. And I also started thinking about all the closets I hang out in, having to do with sexuality, politics, class, humor, intelligence, body mods, etc., depending on the social environment.

It makes me appreciate you even more, Arora, for the wonderful communities you create. Kisses and hugs to you!

Katefenicedautun on June 5th, 2011 02:52 pm (UTC)
This just verbalized lots of things I hadn't really realized were in my head when I started thinking about this topic.
Deloresdebsquared on June 5th, 2011 05:06 pm (UTC)
Thanks for being able to follow my rambling. :) I'd like to talk more about this with you at some point.
Molotov Coqtiz: for youeestiplika on June 5th, 2011 03:40 am (UTC)
What laurenhat said, i think.

For me, there is also this desire to never feel 'stuck' somehow: that whatever situation i am in, i can always effect change, leave, etc. But i think that's my general preoccupations showing. :)
DancingWolfGrrldancingwolfgrrl on June 6th, 2011 07:30 pm (UTC)
I think that mostly when I say I don't feel safe, what I mean is that I don't expect someone to have a surprising and negative reaction or response to me. When someone has a strong reaction of anger or hurt for no reason I can discern, they start to worry me, and if we can't understand each other about what happened later, they *really* worry me, because I'm not sure how to avoid the situation in the future.