Wednesday, December 28, 2011

"Barefoot" Shoes - A Rant

So, one of the big deals floating around the barefoot community at large right now is the use of the terms "barefoot shoes" and "minimalist shoes". People like barefoot shoes apparently (although I've only seen this claim espoused by those who make money by selling such footwear, so I'm somewhat skeptical).

But I have indeed seen more and more use of the term "barefoot shoes", so I think that they may be right that the "masses have spoken". Here's the problem I have though. The masses, i.e. people, are also stupid creatures sometimes, so let's just throw out what people like for a second and consider this rationally.

"Barefoot shoes" is as inane a statement as is "naked pants", or "topless shirt". There might be something quaint about attaching those types of contradictions together, and that's fine within a particular context (for example, it's particularly effective as a marketing catch phrase because it's attention grabbing). But when we transition those phrases from being quaint to being serious by replacing the word minimalist with barefoot and saying that from now on, those funny shoes will be called "barefoot shoes", all it does is sow confusion. So now, apparently when I tell people I go barefoot, the question will be "Do you mean you wear those funny toe shoes"? Fuck no I don't.

Pardon my French, but this whole thing really pisses me off. It's not even the specific idea that pisses me off as much as it is the principle involved. Language has meaning, and it does this so that we as a species can communicate concepts and ideas to one another, without confusion. Language does evolve, but we should fight against such evolution when it means reversing the meaning of core ideas.

Imagine if you will a movement in North Korea to call their system of government democracy. Their "worship" of the Great Leader (and now Jr.) might have some things in common with democracy, but it is distinctly not a democracy.

Or imagine that enough compulsive liars get together and convince everyone that what they do is actually tell the truth. What becomes of the truth?

Is "barefoot" as a word, as a concept, worth protecting? You're damn right it is! It's not critically important, the way that truth or democracy are, but it's been enshrined in the language to mean one thing: being without shoes.  I will continue to fight the trend towards softening its meaning, because in all honesty - if "being barefoot" someday means that I am actually still wearing shoes...then what the hell am I?

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