Walk the plank? No, do the plank!

Plank (n.): a long, thin flat piece of timber, used in building and flooring.

Planking (n.): a “prank that involves lying face down in a public place, with photos posted on social networking sites” (BBC).

Humans, armed with utter boredom and a sense of exhibitionism, have helped spread the phenomenon across continents and cultures–from Australia to Singapore. BBC news comments on the phenomenon:

The growth of planking is an example of the “meme” – an idea that goes viral online and becomes a global trend. Recent examples are Lolcats, Hitler Downfall parodies, flashmobbing and extreme ironing.

“Exhibitionism has been around since the dawn of time,” says Nate Lanxon, editor of wired.co.uk. “YouTube and digital cameras just takes it into a whole new realm. The ultimate goal is for your photo to become the most popular.”

The essence of planking is not lying “stiff as a board” but juxtaposing it with an unexpected place, says Lanxon. The death in Australia will only accelerate the meme of planking, he says, as people become curious and decide to Google the term.

Of course, people–being the competitive creatures we are–have taken this little sport (yes some people claim that it is an  “extreme sport which requires years of constant training to perfect the complex technique”) or art form to dangerous extremes. There has already been a death in Australia that has riled authorities while another planker in Gladstone, Australia has been arrested for planking on a police car. This short video actually gives a nice summary of the different ‘plank’ styles out there.

What does this phenomenon tell you about human nature and interaction? What caused it? (i.e. underlying reasons/social forces?)Is this something  you are ‘proud’ of? Or do you feel embarrassed for humankind? Why?

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9 thoughts on “Walk the plank? No, do the plank!

  1. This issue showed us how thrill-seeking teenagers are nowadays. Young adults are always trying to find interesting and out of the ordinary activities to do so as to impress other people. What caused this is perhaps the environment in which the child grew up in. One may feel neglected or bored at home and would naturally find something exciting to do so as to pass time. In due course, this developed into a habit and this person becomes obsessed with it all day that he or she wants to try it out even in public to seek attention.

    Yes, it does look like a rather exciting and thrilling “sport” to try; it is ultimately dangerous especially if this was done in unsafe places. There was a man who tried planking on his balcony and fell to his death as a result. This was not the only death case. Even if so, many are still trying this out without considerations for his safety.

    I am dismayed at the fact that humankind is selfish in nature as these people do not care for those around them. By putting themselves in such a precarious situation, their friends and families will definitely be worried for their safety. Imagine how the families of the people who died doing planking felt when they heard the news.

    I am not implying that we should stop doing this but at least have the common sense to do it at an appropriate and safe place. You may want to seek thrill and excitement in your life but it is a matter of life and death when you suspend yourself in such a risky place. There are many other ways to add colours to your life and one should really consider the other options they have.

    Moral of the story? Think before you act. (And do not just think about yourself)

    • I totally agree to what Ying Jie said.
      This is a new, irrational, illogical craze that is happening among the youths, nut also the adults.
      This is definitely not the ideal way to seek attention and be “cool”.

      Besides i dont see the trill in this new popular activity, at first it may seem funny, but it is fundamentally a stupid act and useless activity. The people of today should engage with healthy leisure activities, not such activities that will endager your lives. Not only it makes you look stupid and retarded, this entire activity just plainly makes no sense.

      Not only it questions the accountablilty and responsiblities of an individual when you engage in this activity, where is the logic and what does the people of today actuallly have in mind? This new wave of planking will just mislead the young and kids of today, and serve not benefits.

      If there is anyone around you engaging in such activities, please do encourage them to stop this foolish act.
      Dying early will bring dire consequenses on not only the individual but also the people around them.
      Please don’t make Singapore seem like a place with people lacking rational thinking and common sense.(we are not mentally impaired).

      Lastly,this activity not only reflects badly on the people involved,but also cast a negative image on our country.

    • I partly disagree to the response given by Ying Jie.

      Firstly, saying that young adults who are always in search of interesting and unique activities to do such as to impress other people is an awful generalisation. While it is true that some young adults commit themselves to such dangerous stunts to impress others, it is also true that the majority of young adults are simply curious of the new phenomenon sweeping across the world. Furthermore, it is preposturous to think that anyone would develop an odd habit of planking all day long. I mean, that would be absolutely redonkulous. Unless, we’re talking about a profession of planking, somewhat like a work of art.

      Of course, as what Ying Jie pointed out, I believe that planking itself is not dangerous but rather the location where one planks. I mean, what are the odds of getting oneself injured or possibly killed if one were to plank on a wide open field as compared to say, a balcony of a 7th storey building? Prime Minister John Key was quoted as saying, albeit humorously, “I haven’t done it, I think it would be alright if you do it in bed… but not if you do it on an eight-storey building.”

      In conclusion, the bigger question to ask ourselves is, what is the real danger here? Is planking truly safe when all factors are considered?

      P.S Well, there is nothing really to be ashamed of of humankind, not when we’re plagued by the likes of political sex scandals as compared to such weird fads.

  2. Perhaps it is indeed out of curiosity or thrill that led the people to try out these ‘planking’ acts. Human by nature are curious about things around us and nine out of ten times would try out ‘new’ things,even if it may cause dire consequences. I do agree with what Ying Jie said about ‘Think before you act’, but many times human beings are rash and impulsive in nature, therefore it can be quite hard to curb the temptation of trying out what is deem as ‘new’.

    Besides, human beings are attention seeking people, it would be difficult to tell them not to impress or show others what ‘great’ ability they have.

    However, one thing that holds true is that after sometime humans get ennui about their ‘new’ endeavours and might just stop the trend of ‘planking’.

    I would not say that I’m ‘proud’ or ’embarrassed’ for humankind because everyone commits mistakes and no one should have any right to point a finger at anyone.

    Yes, I do acknowledge that sometimes some mistakes are irreversible and can be heinous, but I believe that human beings do have minds that are thinking straight. It is hard to tell why the people are doing what we deem as immature or childish or senseless acts, but there is always a silver lining in every cloud, if we as a whole community can stop further harm and hurt to be caused by encouraging or diverting the people’s attention from planking to other creative impressing activities, I suppose that the ‘planking’ phenomenon would lie low and perhaps come to an ultimate stop.

    Something that I would like to add on before I end off is that those involved in ‘planking’ may be a result from psychological or family issues for one. If this is the case, it is the concern not of the community, but of the parents or whoever the family members.

    So, basically social concerns like these can be easily addressed, but it is best not to become a problem to start. As the saying goes, ‘Charity begins at home’, if any social problem were to arise and spread globally, the root cause may usually be a family problem (a.k.a. Parents did not inculcate appropriate values to children; Parents who are undergoing a divorce; Children who are overly pampered…)

    • Just to elaborate a bit more about the ‘Think before you act’ part is that humans may have different thoughts and perceptions to what is to be ‘right’, therefore there are lists of laws that people have to follow. Maybe a fine or penalty would be good to stop these acts? And, humans do have their conscience, even the most wicked person on earth would know what is kinship and love, so these acts of ‘planking’ can be resolved through family care and concern just as well.

  3. I believe planking has become such a trend especially after the death of the Australian who died while planking, and this has led to worldwide planking and obsession with this trend. While I personally find planking a tad stupid, I don’t feel embarrassed for these people, if you do it in an area that doesn’t endanger your life, and it can also act as an outlet for people to relieve their boredom. However, I do feel embarrassed for those who choose to plank in dangerous places, as seen in the video, on top of signs or high areas which can lead to them falling and breaking bones. I think this group of people are generally thrill seekers who want to engage in these precarious situations for the joy of it. However, I doubt that they realize how dangerous it is and maybe them falling and injuring themselves in the act of planking would make them realize the severity of the situation.

  4. This issue shows how our younger generation is affected adversely by influence from peers, through increased connectedness, it is even largely so no in our society. Recklessness from teenagers are displayed when such dangerous acts are being carried out. They do not fully comphrehend the danger behind such acts. An example was the person who died while planking in Australia. Planking have been trending due to the internet forces promoting the act, such as youtube,twitter and facebook. As teenagers participate in planking, it shows their imperfect knowledge of the world. I do not feel “proud” of such actions as it is irrational and unlogical. Most of the teenagers that do planking is due to influence from peers and the internet. They would only understand the danger behind planking if they are better informed and maybe, by injuring themselves through planking, they would better comphrehend it, hoping that its not too late for them to realise their foolishness.

  5. I think that planking shows how humans are influenced by people around them and also how much they want to compete to be the best at something. With media acting as a tool, showing the rest of the world how popular planking is and this would just encourage more teenagers or even adults to try it out, in the hope of attracting attention from onlookers.
    I feel embarrassed for humankind as it is seemingly pointless and meaningless to be wasting time on planking when these people could have done something else with their time. Furthermore, it just shows how attention-seeking some people can be and how much some people want to be accepted by society by following what others do.

  6. This has shown us how people are easily influenced by our surroundings. When someone started planking on the street, it may cause people nearby to be curious about their actions. Some may even see planking as a ‘fun’ thing to do. By planking on the street, it not only shows that you have the courage to do but also shows that you are ‘outstanding’ (maybe not in the good sense) and ‘different’.
    With media surrounding us anywhere we go, this act could be spread easily. Very soon, the whole world would get to know about this act. And teenagers all around the world would start doing the same thing. It would only attract more onlookers and you would get nothing out of it. Just the ‘fun’.
    I do not feel proud of this act. Why would you want to endanger your life just to be the best. It is not worth it when you do something to be the best but at the end, all you may get is injuries.

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