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Updated on May 24, 2011

What is Planking?

Ever since the daring flag pole sitters of the 20th Century Depression era, there's been street crazes of one sort of another at various times -parkour for example. Only now we have instant communication and Facebook is bigger than any social media site before it - crazes go crazy.

Described by one journalist as "like plankton only not as intelligent " planking is the art, if you could call it that, of lying stretched out on something - doesn't matter what it is, as long as you're lying straight out, like a plank.

Of course the more dangerous and extreme the place you choose to plank in, the more impressed your Facebook friends will be. There's something to be said for it, though I'm not sure what. Is it a kind of performance art? Hmmm..yes. Is it about absurdity? Yes. Does it have something to do with the dissillusionment of inability to believe in the future, so might as well do something pointless? Well, that's a bit deep so I'm not sure. Some commentators are taking it very seriously...clearly they don't get it.

Like journalist Anthony Sherwood from The Punch online, who write:

There’s a new craze in town, haven’t you heard? Stretch your body across an unlikely object, take a pic of yourself, post it on Facebook, then act like you’ve done something really clever and original.

A mid-level dangerous plank
A mid-level dangerous plank
An Australian TV host engagng in a low level  plank.
An Australian TV host engagng in a low level plank.

Caution:Planking can Kill

It's true that planking, when practiced as an extreme sport, can kill. A young Australian man was killed instantly when he fell off an apartment balcony while planking. There have been other cases too, in other parts of the globe because yes, planking is a global phenomenum. Of course the media have jumped on the event, pouring out cautionary tales about the evils of planking.

The planking community is not happy about the death. Planking Australia, via Facebook, advises keeping creative not dangerous. Good advice, except the nature of the activity is conducive to going one better, finding more extreme and photogenic places to plank. Besides, you know what young people are like...they think they are immortal. On the other hand, most people are not daredevils.

Perhaps too, the more reckless youths would be doing something else dangerous if they weren't planking. Like trying to run under a semi-trailor, which happened in Australia recently and resulted in the death of a seventeen year old.

What's the Appeal?

"It's like this comp, where you've got to go to this awesome place, and just lay-down with your hands by your side and your face on the ground and a snap a photo and upload it on Facebook."~Katie_Rox

'You got a body, you got a Plank' ~Ashley Wilson 11 (from Planking, Facebook)

Critics have suggested planking represents the worst 'herd mentality' aspect of social media, yet it's the shared experience of planking that makes it appealing. You plank, you record it, you share it with the world. To plankers it's creative fun, and meaningful in its way and most of them are aware of the silliness of it; to the critics it's a sheep-like, inane activity designed to end in disaster. One of the biggest attractions is that anyone can do it...grandmas, toddlers, tv hosts.

However, according to Planking Facebook, there are rules to the game:

When performing a Plank:

1/ You must always lay face down, ensuring your face remains expressionless for the duration of the Plank.

2/ Your legs must remain straight, and together with toes pointed.

3/ Your arms must be placed by your side, held straight and fingers pointed.

4/ You must make it known that you are Planking. Saying 'I am Planking' usually get this across. Sternly announcing it will ensure a good result.

5/ Your safety should always be considered. Properly thought through Planking procedures should always go to plan. Never put your self at undue risk.

6/ Every Plank that is captured must be named.

High-level, dangerous plank.
High-level, dangerous plank.
Group planking on a train
Group planking on a train


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