Shoes hanging from power lines is something that almost everyone has seen at least once in their lives. But no one has ever been able to really explain why they’re there. People have been known to throw shoes over power lines for different reasons.
Why Do People Throw Shoes Over Power Lines? It’s often to signify the loss of a dear friend or just someone who was part of a neighborhood. In some other towns, people throw shoes over power lines as a rite of passage. In yet other places, it’s a territory marker.
How Did Shoe Flinging/Shoe Throwing Start?
Shoe throwing, also called shoefiti (like in graffiti) is an act where people tie up the shoelaces of each pair of their shoes and fling them to hang from overhead wires. The act is common in America, New Zealand, and all over the world.
How did this act begin? The real origin is unknown. That’s why it’s sometimes difficult to point out a single universal reason for why people do it.
Some people claim that it began among students in college who were celebrating graduation. Some others say it’s a marriage rite. But it remains that this act can’t exactly be traced.
Reasons Why People Throw Shoes Over Power Lines
In different communities, the reasons vary. Why would a person throw a pair of perfectly good shoes overhead where they’ll never be able to access it again? Here are the reasons we’ve gathered.
Reason 1: It’s Done as an Act of Bullying
Bullying has been around for very long, and the methods keep getting more and more sinister. It is possible that throwing shoes over power lines is an act of bullying too.
The bullies delight in taking their victims’ shoes and throwing it where they can’t retrieve it. It’s also a public opportunity for bullies to continually brag and oppress the weaker ones. Because others will see it and laugh, it’s all the more appealing.
Reason 2: To Mark a Drug Dealer’s Territory
This is one of the most common reasons that have been heard, especially around North America. Some people claim that the hanging shoes signify that the house of a powerful drug dealer is in the area, usually right around where the shoe was thrown.
This reason has scared many people, and although the police have debunked it severally, people still believe it. In fact, some people take it as a sign to move away from that place.
Reason 3: To Signify the Death of a Loved One
In some places, friends of a departed loved one throw their shoes up in the air and let them hang. It’s a memorial and a way to always remember their friend or family.
If the person was influential in the neighborhood, all the better. The hanging shoes somehow bring comfort when they feel their loved one is still around them.
Reason 4: To Signify Graduation to a Higher Class
As a rite of passage in some places, shoes are flung over power lines. It’s sometimes used to celebrate the end of a school year.
In the military, when a soldier has completed his service, this is often done. The point is to celebrate movement up a particular societal or academic ladder.
Reason 5: To Leave a Mark
In fact, some people throw their own shoes over power lines to ‘leave their mark’ in the neighborhood. When they’re leaving town, especially if it’s a place they’ve been all their lives, they throw shoes to say ‘I was here’.
That sort of thing is fairly common among childhood friends who are about to part for one reason or another. Well, who can blame them? Everyone feels the need to be relevant and remembered, and that might just be their best idea of leaving their mark.
Reason 6: As a Bit of Goodluck Wish at Weddings
At weddings, shoes are sometimes thrown as a good luck wish after the bride and groom have been joined. They say that it signifies the transfer of authority from the father of the bride to her husband.
This tradition has become largely replaced by the throwing of the bride’s bouquet. The meaning has changed too. These days, anyone who catches the bouquet will be the next to get married.
Customs like these find their roots in folklores which even though are no longer told, are still believed.
Reason 7: In Folk Sports or as Fun
Sometimes, it’s actually difficult to resist the fun of throwing shoes high and accurately enough to make them hang over power lines. People enjoy doing this from time to time.
In some neighborhoods, it’s one of the best games ever, and there’s always a reward for the person who gets it at the least number of attempts. It has even become a sports activity in some places.
Reason 8: As a Result of Boredom
Boredom is also another way to explain it. Truly, it may be one of the most common reasons to explain why a person will throw a pair of cool sneakers over a power line.
Maybe they’re just bored. You never can tell the extent a person can go just to kill their boredom.
Reason 9: A Fun Way of Disposing Old Shoes
When some people get new shoes, they do this to celebrate. They prefer not to dispose of their old shoes the proper way but to make them hang overhead.
It’s shocking indeed but it is what happens. Who knows maybe it’s even a way to brag to others that they’ve got new sneakers. It’s been on for very long, and this reason is shocking but possible.
The Verdict: It Remains a Mystery
Despite several attempts to explain why people throw shoes over power lines, it has remained a mystery. There are many things that can serve as a motive for people to do it, but that’s all we know.
The reason has continued to change over time. Different cultures have also had different explanations for it. Shoefiti could mean many things, and it could mean nothing.
As we mentioned, a person might just be bored and found a pair of shoes to throw. The several attempts that it takes to get it done accurately can be exciting. It has been around for ages, and no one can say if it will ever pass.
Is Shoe Throwing a Taboo in Some Places?
In countries like Arab, shoefiti is not welcome. In their culture, they never even want to see the sole of a person’s shoes at all. It is considered a dirty behavior and seriously frowned upon.
Is Throwing Shoes Over Power Lines Dangerous?
Yes, it is. Apart from having the potential to damage power lines, shoe-throwing can cause havoc during removal.
Any unauthorized person who tries to bring a pair of hanging shoes down can die from fire hazards. That’s why only authorized personnel are permitted to bring the shoes down.
Conclusion & Final Note
Shoe throwing for some is a despicable act, while others see it as a lot of fun. For some people, it carries deep meanings, and for others it just means nothing.
By and large, if you’re curious about a pair of shoes hanging from a power line, it might be most helpful to ask the neighbors what it means. The rationale behind it varies from place to place.