Most people don't like to see something they don't expect. Being barefoot is public is taboo, imagine trying to run around that way? People see barefoot runners as absolutely crazy.
The media has done a decent job recently of improving people's expectations on barefoot running but you cant still receive quite a few comments. For many more years now the public has been fed by shoe company propaganda and little, if any, working knowledge about the benefits or methods to barefoot running.
In my experience, people fit into 1 of 2 general categories: the inquisitive and the dismissive.
The Inquisitive. These people are floored with the idea and have an endless stream of questions, even if you tell them you've just started. They ask for more information, references, and are very interested in why you're trying minimalism.
Folks in this category tend to be interested in the idea of being barefoot will probe you for the benefits and your experiences. Chatting with these types of people will revitalize your love of feeling the ground beneath your feet.
This is a great opportunity to promote minimalistic running and pass on your thoughts on the expected (and hopefully received) benefits of the practice.
The Dismissive. The snarky comments, the yells out of moving car windows, and the disbelief can be paralyzing to people experimenting.
When you head out the door without shoes for the first time, you feel like you're running out the door naked. This leaves your confidence teetering on a thread.
Every person you pass, even if they don't comment, feels like are staring at your feet and judging you -- many are. The worst of these people will say hurtful things like "where'd you lose your shoes Forest". Ok, not that hateful when you think about it right?
Don't let the haters get you down. Don't let the embarrassment temper your attempt. There's no better time to try barefoot running than the present. Start slow and put one foot in front of the other. Don't want to go outside? Try a treadmill!
How do you deal with interaction with the public while you're running?