Face it, John, planking's just plain dumb

By Stephanie Dow

It's the latest craze sweeping the country and the world. Kids everywhere are taken by itand sometimes even the odd, misguided adult.

I'm referring, of course, to "planking". It is, in essence, people lying flat, either on the ground, on top of or suspended between something, usually in a public, and often dangerous, place.

You could say I'm board stiff by planking. You could also say that this trend is causing me to rapidly lose faith in humanity.

What started as an innocent pastime by a group of Facebook friends has ballooned into something encompassing people of almost all nationalities and ages.

Some would call it a great example of just how close we have become to other people in this Web 2.0 generation. I, however, prefer to call it just plain dumb. I fail to see how lying prone on a supermarket shelf or balanced on top of a couple of bathroom stalls is entertaining in any sense of the word.

I'm not sure what planking's allure is. I don't think being able to lie on your stomach constitutes some big achievement. Yet thousands are taken by it. I've heard it said that it's harder than it looks, but I'm unconvinced.

Someone suspending themselves at a 90-degree angle to the ground like an Olympic gymnast - that's impressive. But lying flat on your face in the middle of your old primary school netball courts while your friends take a photo of you and some incredibly confused 5-year-olds is not.

It's also dangerous. You can call me a bit of a nana, but it really is a potential hazard - and not just to the planker. I'm a nervous enough driver as it is, but I really didn't appreciate a boy of about 13 sprinting on to the road in front of me to plank for a few seconds before getting out of the way.

That's right - not only did he run out into oncoming traffic, but he lay down on his face. In front of my car. If he'd lain there any longer, he would have needed to have been scraped off the tarmac and hosed off my bumper.

It's really no wonder some schools have banned the practice. A man in Australia died while attempting to plank off a seven-storey building. A student was reprimanded for planking on railway tracks. There is no doubt this new craze is dangerous.

But it doesn't have to be. People of my generation are genuinely taken by planking. Over 12,000 people have liked the Facebook page for Planking New Zealand. Yet I refuse to get into this fad.

I've always considered myself above such things, but perhaps I'm the one who's a bit behind the 8-ball. I suppose planking could be considered a bit of a statement; art, even, in some circumstances. But I guess most people would say it's just a bit of fun without tacking on my pretentious interpretation of its meaning.

As long as your head's screwed on right, planking doesn't have to be stupidly dangerous. Even our own Prime Minister has said, "As long as you're careful, I'm sure it [planking] will be fine." But you'll never catch me trying it - at least not in public!

Stephanie Dow, Year 12, St Mary's College

- NZ Herald

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