Hello, wonderful readers! Today we’re changing it up from some of the travel content I’ve been posting and discussing “Urban Exploration” or “Urbanex.” Forgotten places possess an indescribable beauty and a tremendous amount of history. However, not all people seeking to discover these places appreciate history or beauty. “Take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints,” is a common motto among urban explorers. Vandals, on the other hand, take everything but the kitchen sink and leave nothing but ruins. Exploring is a harmless hobby, meant to discover, photograph, and memorialize abandoned places. In fact, before the dawn of social media, many explorers didn’t photograph or film their adventures. But the hobby has morphed over the years, and most explorers double as photographers or videographers. The development of social media is great because it allows explorers to share their discoveries with the rest of the world.
Vandalization is detrimental to the urban exploration community for several reasons. First and foremost, vandals ruin everything. There are endless accounts in the community about explorers returning to a spot they discovered only to find the place has been trashed. We’re not talking about quality street art here, we’re talking about crappy tags, dicks, and swastikas. We’re talking about ornate alters and stained glass windows being reduced to rubble and shards. We’re talking about broken bottles, cigarette butts, and broken chairs. These people don’t see the history, beauty, or potential in these abandoned places. All these people see is an opportunity to scream into the void. I remember watching a video by Rare Earth called “The Bay of a Thousand Names,” which is about Grama bay in Albania. In the video, Rare Earth purports that the hundreds of historical inscriptions (aka, carvings in the stone) are people’s attempts to “leave a little reminder that they existed.” I wonder if vandals are simply people trying to leave a little bit of themselves everywhere they go. Moreover, I wonder if vandals don’t want to see history in each spot for fear they will realize the fleeting insignificance of human life.