I think it was during second year of college that I realised I actually liked toilet graffiti. Why? Well first of all, there was the sheer distraction factor. Without the graffiti, visiting the toilets in Trinity College would have been an even more unpleasant experience, but as it was, there was always something to divert your attention, no matter how horrible your surroundings. I used to live in fear of the toilet walls being wiped clean.
And then it must be said that toilet graffiti was sometimes entertaining in itself. When I describe Usenet groups to non-computer people I often compare them to toilet walls, but since I'm probably addressing a more computery audience here, I'll reverse the analogy. Toilet graffiti in college was like a non-electronic version of Usenet. Someone would write something he thought amusing, someone else would flame him underneath, flame wars would develop and branch out into a few different topics, the odd pertinent or cutting remark would be made, and so on. Different cubicles were like different Usenet threads, and different buildings were like different Usenet groups. The Hamilton was mainly for science/nerdy topics, the Berkeley was for politics, the Arts Block had semi-literary ravings (as opposed to merely semi-literate elsewhere) and the AAP was just for weird shit. Like the stuff on most newsgroups, the graffiti was inane, throwaway rubbish, and like most newsgroups, that didn't stop it being entertaining, at least momentarily.
My one problem with toilet graffiti is that it is generally considered vandalism, and that when some strange individuals see it, they assume it gives them a licence to piss on the floor. Because after all, what difference will a bit more dirt make? The obvious way to eliminate this brand of thinking is to make toilet graffiti an integrated part of every clean, sanitary bathroom environment.
To this end, I propose the following. The walls of toilet cubicles should be made of whiteboard, and each cubicle should contain a soluble-ink marker suspended on an elastic string. People, even those who would normally shudder at such vandalism, would be encouraged to scribble down their thoughts on the whiteboard walls. These walls could be easily wiped once full, and the process could start again.
Not only would this remove the 'dirt' stigma attached to toilet graffiti, it would also lead to its rejuvenation, or even its creation as a legitimate art form. After all, there's no reason why toilet graffiti should only be the domain of immature drunken fratboys. It is well known that the cubicle can be a place for contemplation, and that often the most profound ideas (such as this one) can emerge while seated there. As Swift once wrote: "Men are never so serious, thoughtful, and intent, as when they are at stool." Think of the high standards of discourse we could achieve on toilet walls if people were encouraged to share their ideas there and then! It could only contribute to the betterment of society.
It may take a while for this revolution to happen, but in the meantime we can do our bit to change the public perception of toilet graffiti by welcoming whatever graffiti we have. Unless it's by some loser repeating that lame 'toilet tennis' joke again.