Wednesday, January 09, 2008

It is not Selfish to ask Visitors to Remove their Shoes

re-post

Some people claim it is selfish to ask visitors to remove their shoes. They think that it shows excessive concern for one's carpet or flooring.

On the contrary it is not selfish at all.

Firstly, there is an health issue involved. Peoples' shoes pick up dust and animal excrement which is not good for one's health and especially bad for the health of one's children. If one has babies or small children that play on the floor it is extremely sensible to keep one's home shoe-free.

There are many worries today about the health risks posed by pollution, toxins and chemicals. Personally, I think many of these health scares are exagerrated. Many of the supposed health risks have not been scientifically verified. However, it is best to keep as much nasty stuff out of the house as possible.

Secondly, the notion of selfishness here is relative. In a country where shoe-removing is the norm, like Finland or Russia, it would hardly be selfish to insist on shoes-off.

In Britain or the USA, where keeping shoes on is the norm, there are many people who would like to insitute a shoes-off policy, but who are afraid of causing offence or being deemed 'selfish.' If a person is brave enough to insist on shoes-off, she makes it easier for those other people who feel that they would like to make their homes shoe-free. In time, the norms of the UK and the USA may change and shoe-removing may become as normal as it is in Thailand or Sweden.

2 comments:

Sacramento Bob said...

Another alternate view:

Some people claim it is rude that people take offense when asked to remove their shoes. They think that it shows lack of respect for the host and his home to object his "house rules".

On the contrary it is not rude at all, since the basis of his rule is ignorance.

Firstly, there is not really health issue involved, despite misinformed claims made by some hosts. There has never been a single study suggesting any risks associated with wearing shoes in the home, nor have there been any studies suggesting even a correlation between shoeless homes and improved health.

Similarly, despite the many worries today about the health risks posed by pollution, toxins and chemicals, it appears that these health scares are exaggerated. None of the supposed health risks has been scientifically verified. And if it were best to keep as much nasty stuff out of the house as possible, one could imagine that eventually some paranoid zealots would be asking guests to fully disrobe before entering their homes (although one would immediately suspect ulterior motives).

Secondly, the notion of rudeness here is relative. In a country where shoe-removal is the norm, like Finland or Russia, it wouldn’t be considered rude if a visitor took offense when a host insisted that visitors keep their shoes on. The host would be violating a custom of the country for no apparent reason.

In Britain or the USA, where keeping shoes on is the norm, there are a small minority of people who would like to institute a shoes-off policy, but who are rightfully afraid of causing offense or being deemed 'selfish.' If a person is inhospitable enough to insist on shoes-off, she draws attention to the silliness of such a practice and one expects that over time, all but the most iconoclastic rebels will cease the practice. In time, the norms of the Finland and the Russia may change and shoe-wearing in the home may become as normal as it is in Britain, the USA and other enlightened countries.

Sacramento Bob

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Some people think I am a bit obsessive. I am very glad to know that I am not the only one.