The challenges of diversity

Online platforms bring together a great lot of people. Like-minded in some ways, but often very different. In a world of bubbles and echo chambers, this is often a breath of fresh air. But it leads to the occasional mortally embarrassing misunderstanding.

About half of the energy of the Support Team goes into handling those moments. Some individualities are very synergetic, others stay away from each other, and some are quite contradictory.

We know about the struggles for equality and sometimes even recognition of many social groups in our society. These groups might be religious, ethnic, based on their sexual preferences, gender expression, political opinion, and more. A *lot* more. Sometimes they are only loosely tied through shared needs.

Between these groups or individuals tension can arise. The Support Team Volunteers are often those who moderate these conflicts. A social structure needs and lives on conflicts. They shine a light on deeper issues that require attention. We all make mistakes and we are all socialized differently so a welcoming approach to conflict is very healthy.

Still, we are all volunteers. Solving conflicts is a lot of work, and not every member is happy with conflicting situations.

Let’s bring in some imaginary hosts that show the problem:

  1. Fred has a vegan diet. Fred doesn’t want anyone to consume meat/dairy products in their kitchen.
  2. Claudia eats only meat. Claudia doesn’t want anyone to eat vegetables in their kitchen.
  3. Noel has a bad experience with creepy men. Noel doesn’t want anyone to be naked in their apartment.
  4. Nika lives a nudist lifestyle. They don’t want anyone to wear clothes in their home.

Now how do we handle a conflict between Fred and Claudia or between Noel and Nika?

We think that the most important thing is that every host and guest knows what they are getting into when meeting a member formerly unknown to them. I am not a big fan of bad surprises myself and I don’t wish for any member to run into a situation where they are pressed into doing something that they are uncomfortable with, especially if they already have bad experiences in the past regarding that situation.

On Trustroots one has several options to not get into a situation where you are surprised to be in a flat of paleo-nudists who asks you to be naked and only eat meat:

  • Join a bunch of Circles.
  • It positions you on a spectrum and gives them insight into how you live your life.
  • Be clear and honest about your boundaries and especially those towards your guests in your profile
  • Maybe mention your triggers in an initial message so that you are sure that the other user is aware of them

If you have red lines, please make sure they are visible to others.

Note that being transparent is not a blank check to violate the rules. Don’t be shy with the Report button. We never ban first and ask questions later. We’ll always approach conflict with open ears and hearts.

Noah
Trustroots Support Team

6 Comments on “The challenges of diversity

  1. Hi Noah. You describe the challenge so extremely well that I was hoping Trustroots had come up with an equally good solution, and was left a bit disappointed with the tools offered. Joining a tribe is a certain indication that may allow to dig deeper but doesn’t quite cut it for me. Just because I am vegan e.g.doesn’t lean I expect guests to be so, to. Perhaps it cannot be coded better but after that detailed description of the transparency and matching problem I was hoping for a somewhat more powerful key to solving it. But let’s keep looking and help members understand themselves and each other better.

    • Hi Polyglot
      thank you for your comment. I agree that we are not offering a full solution to this problem but after a lot of debate we think that really the only way to approach it is by transparency and courage on the side of the people that meet. I believe it is equally necessary to be able to show your boundaries and to voice your needs – and very importantly – your desires. Freedom to express yourself comes with the experience of acceptance of yourself by others and when different cultures and ways of life are thrown together like with hospitality exchange we are in the best field to experiment with that and learn.

      To keep the text short and an easy read we decided not to include technical details but I see that there could be a little more clarification. What we are offering is a moderated space in case there is a conflict between members. A channel where two conflicting parties can – if they choose to – speak about a situation with a Trustroots Support Member who moderates the conflict. Our experience is that many people are not willing to deal with conflict so we didn’t have a chance to try it a lot but we are very happy to be there for you in case you are in a situation where you could use a safe, moderated space.

      • Thanks for clarifying, Noah. I agree that hospitality exchange is a growth experience allowing to discover and understand. It’s great to see that support is available in case things don’t turn out as expected. But your article inspired me to think about ways to prevent problems rather than having to deal with them. To help members (hosts and guests) express their expectations and boundaries to make their experience as enjoyable and enriching as possible. There may be better ways than a free text “about me” field and circles.

        • Hi Polyglot
          I would be very, very happy if you could make your thoughts public in a way so that all HospEx platforms could benefit from your ideas.
          We are working on and developing a reference/experience feature and at some point we will publish it even. It is supposed to be more supportive to our members but we have still not decided about all the mechanics and are a little short in developers time. I am looking forward to publishing this very thoroughly digested ideas that we are brewing since quite a while :)

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