Artistic interpretations of musicians, cleverly constructed street art and Banksy stencils aside, graffiti is vandalism and has been an annoying eyesore that just about every city in the world has had to put up with. Popular opinion would suggest that the majority of these types of crimes are carried out by bothered teens and young adults looking to create a little notoriety or spice up their lives with a little adrenalin rush. Yet statistics show that the number of these incidents are falling dramatically in the Western world. Are young people better behaved or do they just have another outlet for their ‘creativity’?
It would be nice to think that the kind of uncaring, anti-establishment behaviour that goes along with vandalism and mindless tagging on street corners is on the decline and teens and twenties have developed a sense of local pride and dignity, but this would be wishful thinking on a grand scale. Crime prevention tactics and fear of punishment may be a factor in the decrease of spray-painted walls in big cities too, but the main reason for cleaner walls is simply that kids are too busy expressing themselves via social media platforms. Posting is the new paint. It doesn’t take nearly as much effort, passionate emotion can be unleashed in much the same way, no one’s going to come and remove it (for the most part), more people will see it and there would be little reason to run from the scene after. And it’s free.
As bbc.co.uk so elegantly put it – “Smartphones have killed boredom.” In the same report the BBC quoted that vandalism began “to fall sharply in 2006/07 – about the same time as smartphone sales began to take off in the UK.” Running around with a tin can and an attitude just seems like far too much work these days, especially when the average teen spends 13 hours a week indoors on video games and phones.
One teenage girl echoed these sentiments when she revealed that if she got angry or had something to get off her chest, “I just go on Facebook.”