Friday, 19 June 2015

Why I Don't Wear Socks

Do you know what a difference of opinion is? Maybe.

You know what an opinion is, surely? Well, when two people have opinions, but they are different, that is a difference of opinion.

It doesn't mean that one is right and the other is wrong, because that only works with facts. With opinions, there is no absolute right or wrong, there's just thoughts that work logically (we hope) for the person holding them.

I don't wear socks. Well, very rarely anyway. Maybe twice a year. The point is I don't wear them habitually, as many people do. You may say I should choose an example of something I NEVER EVER do, but I don't believe in never. There are things I haven't done before, certainly, but who knows what the future brings? Anyway, it's important for this discussion that sock-wearing is not totally ruled out.

So, when I get up in the morning, I put on clothes, but not socks, because I have no use for socks. Even if it's cold. If I have to go out in the snow I put on warm boots. Don't need socks. If I'm wearing shoes that many think of as needing socks, i.e. trainers/sneakers whatever you happen to call them in your part of the world...usually faux Converse in my case...I wear them without socks. Don't they chafe a bit? Sometimes, but I usually don't walk far in them. If I'm going to be walking for miles and miles and miles, I wear sandals. And wearing sandals with socks punishable by hanging.

I have some socks. I have a few "sports" socks for occasions when I need to walk a long way in shoes, for whatever reason. And I have some ridiculous socks (e.g. black and white stripes, thigh high) just for the hell of it. But it's still correct to say that I don't wear socks.

WHY don't I wear socks? My feet like being uncovered. I'm am a barefoot person. My mother was a chiropodist and a bit of a fanatic about healthy feet. As a child the only shoes I ever had were Clarks, with my feet carefully measured, and my shoes carefully fitted, by an expert. I'm not even sure such a system even exists anymore other than sports shoes for serious athletes, but back then the idea of choosing a size off a rack all by yourself would have given her seizures. AND, when shoes weren't strictly necessary I went barefoot, as did she. She was the only mother among all my friends who went barefoot. My friends thought she was a hippy.

She wasn't, she was pre-hippy. By the time the hippies arrived on the scene she was already in her late thirties, and far more "respectable", but she did feed me homemade yoghurt and muesli. I tend to think of her as ahead of her time really.

Anyway, I grew up thinking shoes were optional and situational, and socks were for school. There were two occasions in childhood that stand out (no pun intended, but I shall leave it in), when I walked on 1) broken glass in the pool in the park, and 2) holly leaves, when the skin on my feet, toughened by natural walking, did not break. I'm sure I was saved countless other injuries too.

There are pros and cons to a barefoot lifestyle. Because my feet have not "moulded" to the shape of ladies' shoes, particularly heels/pointy toes, and they have widened a bit with age, as they do naturally, I don't fit regular shoes. Not that I want any heels and pointy toes thank you, not comfortable. I just have to choose extra wide sizes, or naturally wide styles to get my toes in.

In other words, I have foot shaped feet. You try buying a size 7 shoe which is 4 inches across the toes!

So, let's go back to differences of opinion.

It is my opinion that my feet are normal, and that most western women's feet are not. However, according to the shoe industry, I'm the abnormal one. That is to say, I'm in the minority. Only a small percentage of women have foot-shaped feet at my age.

This is what you usually see:

Far more shoe-moulded over the years. And this lady has been careful.

Sometimes they look like this:

But here's the funny thing. While some foot experts rage against badly fitting and/or fashion shoes, especually ultra high heels etc, for the damage they do, other experts rage against going barefoot.

They both have good reason. They've seen damage done either way, which also means they all know damage is possible either way. And being barefoot certainly can lead to injuries. So, do we look at the data, as to which is safer? The question is, where do we collect the data from? Because if you do a small sample, let's say in New York City, you're immediately leaving out country people - although you may get a few weekend hikers. Any small sample excludes somebody. Then if you go worldwide, with a huge sample, you're going to get far more barefoot people overall. In some places people are at risk of damage to unshod feet from conditions that don't exist elsewhere, such as footworms (yes, there are!). In other words, it's all relative. There's no such thing as a right answer, just expert opinion. For ME, barefoot is best. For some people it would be absolutely wrong.

Are socks dangerous? They are on polished stairs! They can lead to fungal infections. I should show you that, I'll spare you. OK, socks - or indeed lack of socks - are less hazardous, and therefore less of a serious matter than shoes. Generally speaking, socks are more habit/comfort/style than necessary. Optional. A matter of choice.

So I don't have to wear socks. Nobody else's business. My doctor doesn't tell me to wear socks. The fashion industry is ambivalent about it (not that I've ever followed THEM), my husband isn't repulsed by the sight of my feet, and so on. There is complete sock freedom. Oh, wait......

When I was 14 I was an exchange student in Germany. Germans are like Canadians, shoes come off as you enter the house. Suited me fine. So I was barefoot. On the 2nd day I was there my host offered me a pair of slippers. I declined politely. She tried a little more forcefully. I declined a little more forcefully. She became insistent. It was getting a bit awkward, so I just took them. But I didn't wear them. YEUK. Can't abide slippers.

The next day her daughter appealed to me. Apparently her mother found my bare feet unhygienic, could I at least wear socks? As my room was on the 3rd floor and the stairs were polished, I thought this was a bit dodgy, so I went out and bought some flip flops. Then I got told I was making too much noise on the stairs. I wore the bloody slippers, I was a guest in their home after all, but sheesh.

There isn't always complete sock freedom. But there isn't ALWAYS anything. Always is a bit like never. Sometimes you go along with things to keep the peace, or whatever.

So, if I got a job in a fast food "restaurant" (not going to happen, just the first example I thought of) and I was expected to wear safety shoes and socks inside them, then I'd do it. Because it would be a condition of employment. A prior agreement. The safety shoes (I don't know, do they? Non-slip? Hard toe? I really don't know) would be very sensible, and maybe they'd have a reason for socks.....for the sake of argument. You want the job? You follow the rules.

In my previous post I droned on about rules, and how silly some of them are. I'm not one of those bloody awkward people who flouts rules just for fun. If there's a line (queue) I line up. If there is a door marked "Please Use Other Door" I go to the other one. If I'm on an internet forum that says "No Swearing", then despite the fact that I consider swearwords to be a perfectly legitimate form of language, I don't do it. I have good table manners, within reason. I don't have any fish knives, for a start.

But I'm not going to wear socks just because, occasionally somebody says "you should wear socks".

There is some logic behind the opinions of socks, but not enough. It is all definitely an opinion. There are no facts about wearing socks. It is a fact that socks exist, etc, what I mean is, there is no absolute fact regarding the benefits of wearing socks. Until the day arrives that I NEED to wear socks, I won't.  I don't rule it out.

When a difference of opinion is based on two opposing logics we often call it politics. No, really. Think about it. No matter how much one side or the other thinks he's right, it's all opinion. It's deeply held, carefully thought out opinion. Took years to perfect. And despite myself I must concede that conservative opinion is logical within their own frame of reference. I'm not talking about US Republicans, obviously, they're all mad, I'm talking about classical conservative theory.

This explains it all quite well - the two worldviews.

I found the definitions quite fair and balanced. I don't think the writer showed any bias. If you read each definition it isn't so much about politics as what's behind the politics. The different mindsets. Because there has to be something behind, something that causes people to lean left or right.

Who is right? This is not an answerable question. Both have been tried, over time, in different places, and both have worked, and both have gone horribly wrong. It's a never-ending argument, because when it comes right down to it, everyone involved - no - the sincere people involved, all want the same thing. A better life, a better world, and so on. They simply disagree on how to do it. Simply, eh? Oh I do amuse myself.

If we knew for sure that one way of looking at things always worked out, we'd all be doing it. But we can't even find a middle way. Instead, failing to consider that we are coming at problems from different angles, because we have different mindsets we argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and argue and

Maybe we just enjoy doing it. Maybe we honestly think we'll change the other person's mind. Maybe we just get so bogged down in our reasons behind our arguments that we lose track. Maybe we are just stubborn. Maybe we are so passionate and sincere about our position that we feel a duty to continue. Maybe a traumatic experience brought us to this position. Maybe we're stupid. Maybe we listened to the wrong people. Whatever the reason, we repeat ourselves, explain ourselves, and sometimes get terribly frustrated. Sometimes we forget about the rules of debate, and sometimes we forget our manners. Sometimes we forget compassion altogether.

Sometimes studying why people argue is more interesting than the argument itself.

Somewhere out there is a reader quite adamant that I should wear socks.

(Cue a slew of random thoughts on socks...........)

1 comment:

  1. It's a bit more complicated than an either/or thing for me. I love being barefoot. In fact I'm only really comfortable - I'll tell you a secret here - naked and barefoot. When I'm alone and assured of privacy I'm usually nude, and indoors at home I wear footwear as little as I can help. But at the same time my soles are extremely sensitive and I tend to hurt my feet easily, so even for a few seconds' walk outside it's excruciating for me if I don't have something on my feet. And also as you know I'm a biker. Well, in order to ride a bike safely, you don't need shoes, you need boots. I love my boots. With socks, because again my feet are so tender-skinned I have literally worn holes in them from walking in leather sandals whose straps were not fitting properly.

    But as I said I love being barefoot. Especially on the beach where sensitive soles become a positive asset. The most wonderful, soothing and mind-cleansing experience I know of is a long barefoot walk on the wet sand along the water's edge.