Planking is the latest Internet craze to sweep the world. So what is it? A person lies horizontally flat in a perfect horizontal line, and then balances on some precarious objects. According to reports, “Twenty-year-old Acton Beale fell to his death from a high-rise building when he tried to ‘plank’ on a balcony railing.” It gained its popularity in Australia, and if you look at it, it doesn’t seem as dangerous as other Internet fads like “happy slapping” or “ghost riding the whip.” Happy slapping was a fad in the UK where someone would slap a stranger in the face while another person recorded it on a cellular phone. Here in the U.S., ghost-riding the whip (the whip is slang for car) is an automotive stunt where people put their car in gear then hop out of the car and dance on the roof or next to the car.
Planking, on the other hand, seems more like flag pole sitting. It looks cute, and rather harmless. However, like with any dare, the dares get riskier and riskier. Ultimately, the pole-sitting record holder sat on a pole for 439 days. Likewise, planking poses are being done in more and more precarious situations, today’s sadly ending in a death.
So what’s the upside of having a video go viral from being “that guy” — the crazy one that will do anything at a party? A little fame. According to the chronicle AU, “The central point is that people want to have their five minutes of fame,” Dr. Hickey said. “Previously the only people to gain this sort of attention have been celebrities.”
Fame yes, but there are other memes that don’t involve fame that are also popping up. Memes are Internet ideas that spread virally, from getting “rickrolled” to “LOL cats.” Currently, we’re in the midst of two food memes: the cupcake and the bacon memes. There are bacon-wrapped hot dogs, bacon candy, bacon shirts — we’re bacon crazy. As diabetes is on the rise, the bacon craze is ironic to say the least. So in part, maybe these people do want fame, but as the memes become part of our culture, maybe what they’re really striving for is to fit in.