Planking Craze: Risk Taking and Attention Deficit in the Wired World

Posted: July 16, 2011 in Analysis, culture, ICT, Media, Popular Culture
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Fun, fun, fun. It is awesome at first to see someone planking, lying facedown with a stiff body on something and taking the risk a step higher. This phenomenon is a new craze among younger people, and those amused would also like to try – for fun’s sake and the thrill of the experience. As to why they do what they do is an interesting inquiry. Nevertheless, looking at this behavior in an outsider’s point of view leads to consider some basic insights of our communicative social behavior.

Planking as an action sends a message to the observer, as it is a form of self-expression approved by its audience. Approval comes in the form of amazement, amusement and excitement to the spectacle. Unlike the previous form planking in earlier societies of Haiti where it is used as a social punitive act for the deviant, plankers today deviate from what has been done by another planker. They take the risk higher as a spectacle to get audience attention.

It’s triple fun for a planker to get some attention. First, plankers demonstrate a skill or a talent of being able to control their body into a stiff position on and over something that virtually defies gravity and phyisical force of balance. Secondly, plankers feel social approval through the appreciation and amusement of their audience at the time of their performance.  Thirdly, plankers find more attention when their act is captured in pictures or videos and posted online. Planking, seemingly turns out to make at an instant a celebrity out of an ordinary individual.

According to sociologists, a craze characterizes a collective obsession, which is interchangeably referred to as a fad or fashion. Thus, we can understand planking is but temporal until it reached a saturation point that almost everyone has tried it and did not really get satisfied with at a latter time. In this craze, the involvement of other people is influenced by their perception to the act and their attitude towards doing such act. For the fun of it, many would try, and those who have tried planking, if they are gratified would continue for a certain period of time to better their feat. Online planking communities are even growing from the various parts of the world.


That is where obsession comes in a craze, it goes on until an alternative comes in to gratify that need for self-expression and attention. In one way or another, planking provides these young people to deviate from their routine. They may have gotten bored of their life in the virtual world, ultimately they find the gratification in going back to the real social connection by performance in the public sphere. Plankers most often do not this alone, they do it with some peers because of the risk and they do it publicly because they intend to be noticed.

Since it is immediately understood as form of a unique and amusing self-expression. Even authorities, like that of teachers in schools, do not really mind their students from doing it right there in their face. While planking does not really take much time, it is mostly unnoticed until the act is published in the Internet. There’s some risks in this craze,because they are taking the feat one step too far for their fatal death. Plankers should be aware of to put some limitation in their form of self expression. A young man from Australia plunged into his death planking on a balcony rail from the 7th floor.

Theoretically, planking is a craze resulting from the gratification through display and attention that one gets into. This daring phenomenon, in the context of our high tech-high touch world, shows how the younger generation desires to be liked more in the online world by performing in the real world social sphere. As planking is an Internet craze, most of the plankers got their interest to this phenomenon by appreciating it from the online media. Then they use the social world as platform for their performance simply to get the attention of the people in the virtual world.


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