I sometimes feel like a hypocrite when I say, "I go barefoot." I usually don't go barefoot, unless it's in my own backyard. I do wear barefoot alternative shoes, as often as possible. It's just easier for me to say 'barefoot' than 'barefoot alternative shoes' all the time. So, I mean no offense to hardcore barefooters for my laziness in terminology.
Not going completely barefoot is a hygienic issue for me. I hate having dirty feet. I also have 'pansy' feet, meaning they are very sensitive to sharp. I know that the bottoms of my feet would eventually get tougher...but then there's the fear of what I might step on around where I live. Mostly I'm afraid of stepping on gum, dog poo, banana peals, cigarette butts...I guess my list includes other people's garbage that interferes with my feet's interaction with nature (I do NOT consider people's garbage to be nature). If we lived in a world where people were always responsible, I think that I'd be completely barefoot as often as the weather permitted.
Speaking of weather, I live in Alberta, Canada where winter conditions can easily last six months of the year. For those six months, it is simply not feasible to be completely barefoot. Socks and some kind of shoe is absolutely necessary to protect from the cold, slush, ice, and salt. (More on my opinion of the perfect winter barefoot shoe in later posts.) Kudos to those Canadians who can go barefoot in winter, I am not one them.
So I wear my VFFs (as they are the only barefoot alternative shoes I own at the moment). I am eternally grateful that there finally exists barefoot alternative shoes for those of us who have discovered the joys and benefits of being barefoot and feel the need to wear something on our feet to protect us from whatever our individuals needs happen to be. Thank you Vibram for inventing and producing such a comfortable, healthy, and forward-thinking shoe.