In our advocacy for barefoot living, it's prudent for The Barefoot Alliance to get some kind of idea of how many people have an actual interest in going barefoot when they feel they can't. Knowing this gives legitimacy to the cause and bolsters our interest in moving it forward. There are a few ways to measure numbers, however it is admittedly difficult to gauge the numbers with statistical certainty without hiring some fancy (expensive) research firm. Still, some interesting figures have come up over the years with the most recent being a simple "poll" of tweets on the topic.
As part of our presence on Twitter we monitor search results for tweets that use a number of keywords and phrases related to barefoot activity. There is some "noise" -- mentions of the Barefoot brand of wine, for example -- but we've done enough tweaking to our searches to get good returns when someone tweets about their desire to go barefoot.
In a search of all tweets posted from Saturday, June 15 through Friday, June 21, 2013, we discovered a (mean) average of 26.9 tweets per day in which someone posted a desire to go barefoot by saying that they "would" or that they "wish" they were able to. The standard deviation was 6.15.
I really wish shoes weren't a thing. I wish we could walk around barefoot and it be accepted.— Dylan Fox (@GetFoxxedUp) June 21, 2013
I hate wearing shoes. I wish it were okay to walk around barefoot all the time.— mikay (@mikayye) June 19, 2013
If society didn't make me so damn insecure about looking "presentable" I would gladly go barefoot everywhere with my ball cap on.— Allison Waltrip (@AlWaltrip) June 18, 2013
If I could I would be barefoot every second for the rest of my life— Morgan Jennings (@morganjennings1) June 16, 2013
It's important to understand that we were quite strict with what "counted" and what didn't. We looked at the sentiment in each tweet, counting only those tweets in which the poster specifically expressed a desire to go barefoot.
Many sentiments were "retweeted" several times -- look at the last one above -- but do retweets count as a endorsements of the original tweet? We didn't count retweets just to be safe.
What we wonder is, if roughly 27 people a day, at a reasonable minimum, are willing to tweet they'd rather be barefoot, how many more have the same desire but don't post it?
Then again, how many people posted something like that but their phrasing didn't meet our search criteria? How many others share that desire but aren't on Twitter at all?
A couple of years ago, our founder, Michael Buttgen, conducted a Facebook poll asking a simple question: "Would you go totally barefoot in public if it was socially acceptable and the weather was nice?" While admittedly unscientific, it was meant to get a rough idea of where people's heads were at. He discovered that 3/4 of Facebook users who answered the question would go barefoot in public at least "some of the time" if they the conditions were right.
Based on these results, we believe it's reasonable to assume that there are a significant number of people -- especially people on popular social media outlets -- who would be interested in going barefoot more often. The question is, "how do we educate and inform that going barefoot is safe, hygienic, socially acceptable and that there's a LOT of us out there so that those who want to go barefoot will start going barefoot?"
More to come on that.