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Island Safe Spaces and The Open Ocean of the Internet

Safe spaces go beyond protecting someone from being "triggered" or "offended." The internet is an open lawless ocean, at least in its current state. One could say that platforms enforce rules but I would argue that Twitter, Facebook, TikTok and Instagram are nothing more than different bodies of water with no borders or order beyond the culture of the location. Everything you share on the open ocean is fair game for scrutiny, hate, threats, and judgement. Only the strongest survive in this game of mental warfare.

Much like Pirates at sea, there is a general code of what it means to be a pirate, otherwise it's every man for themselves. If you're familiar Spiral Dynamics, it's a very Red-3 place (look up Spiral Dynamics Integral for more information) where people varying ideologies from different islands intermingle and often go to war. There are no rules, take what you can and say what you want. Those who are more organized in life, who play by the rules, and who are used to reporting everything to HR can be left agape by the sheer direct force of the internet. "How could they say that?" "Who are these people?" "They should be arrested!" "What an idiot!" "Why aren't they doing what they're supposed to do?" Unless you've created or are on an island, a safe space, then the expected rules of morality, expression, and tact are no longer at play. It's like being confronted by a bear and thinking that if we threaten it with prison time it'll cooperate. That probably won't go very well. The same rules don't apply to every island and they definitely don't apply to the open ocean. It's easy to assume the internet plays by an established order of the society we're used to with borders, military, nourishment, protection, and housing. And as a result, we expect better behavior when we enter this open ocean only to be met with screams, cannon fire, and speeding boats ramming each other.

What we hope is to just sail for leisure, take in the sky, and feel the breeze. But the threat of attack from pirates is very real and could come from any direction. And without the proper experience, skills and equipment anyone on the open sea can take anything you're carrying with you...your pride, your mental health, your energy, and whatever other vulnerabilities you share publicly.

This is because the open ocean doesn't provide as much nourishment in the form of mental comfort and support. It's not a place to rest your head and get a quality meal. Even pirates go to shore to do that effectively. We can't go to battle all day every day. Who are these pirates, anyway? Well, potentially anyone. Pirates can be anyone with an enemy or "opposing" ideology...political affiliations with a makeshift flag, anyone peddling a personal ideology as solitary truth, conspiracy, or tales of monsters that rule the seas. Cannon fire equals forceful suggestions about "incorrect" behavior, intolerance, trolling, and death threats. You may even be one or have been one without realizing it. Chances are that if you spend all of your time at sea, you may be one. And that's fine if that's where you want to be. But remember that the internet is the battleground, not where you settle. That's not to suggest we should avoid the internet altogether. The wild is where we gain experience, test our ability, gather resources and strength for battles we may need to face.

Techniques we've learned from our adventures can come in handy when establishing or supporting a safe space island. Conflict makes us hearty and supports the development of Grit. However, no single soldier can stand battle indefinitely. We need safe spaces to rest, regroup, to settle, learn, build and eventually leave.

Yes, there are some islands that don't let you leave. I would say they don't fit the "safe" requirement as increased social pressures or a single leader robbing you of your trust of self won't let you go back out into the world. They say you're not good enough, you're not ready, you're not strong, you're inherently bad, you need to pay a sacrifice or submit your identity. Be weary of these places that promise to be everything and more.

A proper safe space offers guidance, support, and opportunity but isn't your keeper or overlord. Resources are available as needed and while contribution to the growth of the community is appreciated, it's not required. The ultimate goal is a place to either settle by choice to make safe passage.

DOPEamine is meant to be one of these safe spaces. A place where you come ashore, take a rest, look around, connect with fellow travelers who also wanted to come here, restock on goods, exchange knowledge, have a drink and be merry. Some stay a while and others pass through when they realize it's not for them at all or anymore. And that's okay, they're allowed to sail on by. But also know that this island is fortified to protect those who need incubation time and a place to rest. That what it takes to have island in the first place. A willingness to create that sense of security while encouraging autonomy. It'll take a lot to threaten a safe space if the facilitator is doing their job. Those that threaten the island can be sent back out to sea. That's the power of having and creating a safe space. Empty threats don't go very well on someone else's island. And on this island we support mental health empowerment and the individual's right to their sense of normalcy, not the open ocean's interpretation of normal. We have tools, resources, guides, coaches, supporters and a community to support that opportunity for personal empowerment and calibration. The open ocean will make assumptions of who you are and fire cannons at you simply because you're not on the same ship or from the same island. An island safe space can include castaways and travelers from all walks of life. The common theme of an island isn't bound by assumptions and finger-pointing as ideologies fought over don't matter and frankly, aren't much welcome if the intent is to force a singular belief on someone. A safe space is a place to rest your head in preparation for your journey back out into the world to eventually establish your own island and that's what I aim to do. Dedicated websites, Facebook groups, Patreons, Discord Servers and other private sections of the internet are the islands I'm referring to. The logo is our flag. I visit other islands in the form of podcasts and YouTube videos to share what we're all about. And I venture out into the open ocean to see who needs some help. Followers are just other boats on the open sea following your path and joining your battles but that doesn't mean they fly your flag. So think of this article as a lighthouse on the shore or DOPEamine. It's a way to reach out and say that we're here. If you need us through support, a personality profile, a coaching session, or to just chat with other friends then follow this lighthouse to shore.

If you're feeling weary and lonely on your little dingy in the open ocean, perhaps it's time to find an island to rest up on to get the nourishment you need and support for the journeys ahead.

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