In a previous letter, the option to go without shoes was brought up as a preferable alternative to finding a more suitable pair of soles [“‘Heel Thyself’ By Going Barefoot,” Feb. 6, Xpress]. The ensuing discussion, I noticed, was largely based around the benefits or drawbacks of this practice to the individual — not to those surrounding them who might be affected by their decision.
Regardless of whether any concrete, factual information was presented in support of either side, it is pretty clear that engaging in the practice of wearing shoes likely limits the spread of certain diseases and fungal infections to others. It is common practice to wear “shower shoes” in public bath areas in order to prevent picking up nasty microbial hitchhikers — can you imagine the rate of infection we may possibly see if a large number of people stopped wearing shoes completely in public areas?
You could argue that the only people affected by this would be the other shoeless-by-choice individuals, but this is ignoring those who may wear open-toed shoes, young children and anyone who is barefoot for only a brief period in a conventional/necessary setting for the activity, such as a doctor’s office or the security area of an airport. With the contagious spread of different foot-borne infections rising due to the daily public traffic of shoeless individuals, the chances of nonshoeless people developing these afflictions may also spike, in much the same way we worry about the spread of the flu or other similar diseases throughout populations.
It is likely better, then, to benefit the multiple individuals who might have to put up with the mess of having an unwanted infection (via wearing shoes) than it is to serve only oneself by going barefoot everywhere. On the beach, in the woods, and around private property, feel free, but perhaps consider your fellow man and don a pair of sandals in public.
— Mackenzie McClay