Political Correctness

Believe it or not, Urbex activities are considered by some as politically incorrect or at least, not very woke. The argument goes that they have negative connotations and be used in a way that is derogatory or stigmatizing towards certain groups or individuals.

For example, referring to a neighborhood as “decaying” can be interpreted as implying that the people who live there are somehow inferior or responsible for the decline. Instead, in a woke world, it may be more respectful and perhaps, accurate, to describe the specific issues or challenges facing a community, without using language that could be seen as judgmental or demeaning. But that is a reference to people. So what about buildings and lifeless sites ?

First, one should be aware that the concept of “political correctness” (a.k.a wokeness) is a complex and evolving one, and its application can depend on context, cultural norms, and individual perspectives. So what I am writting about today maybe completly wrong tomorrow.

We should note that the terms “woke” and “politically correct” have some similarities, but there are also some important differences between them.

“Politically correct” is a term that has been around for several decades, and it generally refers to language or actions that are intended to avoid offense or discrimination towards certain groups of people, such as racial minorities, women, members of the LGBTQ+ community and the socially disadvantged (See here for the social tresspassing issue). It often involves using language that is inclusive and respectful, and avoiding language that is derogatory or stereotypical.

“Woke,” on the other hand, is a more recent term that originated in African American Vernacular English (AAVE) and has been adopted more widely in popular culture. It generally refers to being aware of social and political issues, particularly those related to systemic injustices and oppression. Being “woke” involves recognizing and challenging systems of power and privilege, and actively working towards social justice and equity.

So while both “politically correct” and “woke” involve being conscious of social issues and striving to avoid offense or discrimination, “woke” goes beyond simply avoiding offensive language and takes a more proactive stance towards dismantling systems of oppression. Additionally, “politically correct” has sometimes been used in a negative or dismissive way, whereas “woke” is often embraced as a positive and empowering label. However, from a purely lingual point of view, the term “Urbex” does not carry any inherently political or woke connotations. Or at least, it shouldn’t.

Urbexes genrally occur in ruins and abandonned sites, which are typically understood as the remains or traces of a once-standing structure, such as a building or monument, that has fallen into disrepair or been destroyed. They can hold historical, cultural, and aesthetic value, and are often studied and preserved as important artifacts. So, the term “decay” is not inherently politically correct or incorrect, as it is simply a descriptive word that refers to the process of deterioration or decline over time. However, the context in which the term is used can have political implications.

For example, as mentionned above, if someone uses the term “decay” to describe a particular community or group of people, it could be seen as derogatory and politically incorrect if it implies that the group is inherently inferior or morally corrupt. On the other hand, if the term is used in a neutral or scientific context to describe the natural process of decay in a physical object, it would not be considered politically incorrect.

In general, the political correctness of a term depends on its context and how it is used. For many, it is important to be aware of the potential implications and connotations of the words we use, and to strive to use language that is inclusive, respectful, and accurate.

Decaying buildings can be emotionally impactful for a variety of reasons. Here are a few:

  • History: Decaying buildings often have a rich history that can be fascinating to explore. They may have been the site of important events, or have architectural features that are no longer common. When we see a decaying building, we may feel a sense of loss to one’s root and a sadness that history wasn’t preserved.
  • Nostalgia: Decaying buildings can evoke feelings of nostalgia, particularly for those who grew up in the area or have fond memories associated with the building. Seeing a familiar place fall into disrepair can be emotionally difficult, and can bring up feelings of loss and longing for the past.
  • Beauty: Decaying buildings can also be visually striking, with their crumbling facades and overgrown vegetation. They can take on a haunting, romantic quality that some people find very beautiful. In this way, if for Urbexers decaying buildings can be seen as a form of art, with their own unique aesthetic qualities for the average public it might conjure images of sadness and, ultimitly, horror.
  • Symbolism: Decaying buildings can also be seen as symbolic of larger issues, such as urban blight, economic decline, or environmental degradation. They can represent a lost sense of community or a fading way of life. When they see a decaying building, some may feel a sense of sadness or frustration at the larger problems it represents.
  • Stigma: Some sites will inherently remind people of issues and social catastrophies that plagued their familly or communities. May it be social consequences of a closed factory, an old jail or for some, the mere sight of their cultural heritage in foreign museum.

So, in some cases then, Urbexes may even be associated with controversial or sensitive issues, such as the legacy of colonialism or the preservation of indigenous cultural heritage. Like wise, abandonned industries will remind the viewning public of poverty, economic hardship and social inequalities. Decaying hospital, on their parts will higlight desease, physical decay, and utlimatly, death.

However, whether or not a particular set of decaying buildings is considered politically correct would depend on the specific historical and cultural context in which they exist, as well as the opinions and beliefs of the individuals and groups involved.
Overall, Urbex is not inherently political or non-political, but rather a neutral descriptor of a reality that can’t be escaped.

In short, life is what it is.

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