It started in 2009 on Facebook as "The Lying Down Game," and has since spread around the globe - and the name has been shortened to the easier-to-say "planking" The object is to get a really good picture of oneself lying down, usually on a board (plank) in some unique location. The more shocking or daring, the better.
I saw one picture on the Internet of four plankers stacked in a pile. Would that be called "gang planking?"
This fad has caught the imagination of tens of thousands in Australia where a Facebook page called "Planking Australia" has garnered nearly one hundred thousand "likes." Because the activity challenges participants to outdo one another, there have been some bad results. One young fellow was arrested for taking a photo of himself lying on top of a Queensland police car - and charged with trespassing on police property. Another young lad from Queensland, Acton Beale - aged 20, died from a fall as he was attempting to plank on the ledge of a balcony located on a high-rise apartment building.
Clearly Mr. Beale, had he lived, would be a prime candidate for one of the Darwin Awards.
But potential arrest or death won't deter real plankers. Facebook now boasts pages for "Planking Ireland" and "Planking Norway." It would seem that the day draws nigh when planking will make its way into the American cultural mainstream - i.e. reality television shows - and politicians will be employing planking as they pander for votes.
Way to go, Facebook! Thanks for keeping us abreast of cultural advancements!