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).
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?