Surely by now you’ve heard of the fad that’s sweeping the globe – “Planking” – as it’s called where people photograph themselves acting like a wood plank in seemingly unexpected places. I want to share my thoughts on why people do this and why it’s popular.
Aside from the occasional Planking injury, the phenomenon is harmless when participants employ common sense. That is, avoiding steep falls, machinery and anything that could cause direct harm is a must. That aside, the Planking trend is outright hilarious. See below.
It is my hypothesis that we all desire to be a part of something big. Look at the Internet (minus the commercialization). Look at Twitter. Look at Facebook. Even MySpace circa 2004. They are all “big” networks and once they catch on (or, cross the chasm), it provides a sense of satisfaction to join the movement. Revolution, eh, not so much, but a movement would best describe the Planking craze.
It’s also incredible that without mass media supporting Planking, it has spread globally. It started from Australia as the “lying down game” from a couple Rugby players and spread virally across the globe. Pretty cool. It epitomizes the power of our peer-to-peer communication in today’s times.
While we poke fun at Planking and dismiss it as an immature act, consider the fact that people are actually doing something from what they witnessed on the Internet. When a message is invoking enough, people will carry it on. This ‘sport’ is played silently, through photos.
There’s very little separating peer-to-peer syndication of recreational activities and philanthropy. Money isn’t the answer to every non-profit. Many times, the challenge is awareness. I would love if we could carry on a message for one non-profit and share that. There is nothing stopping people except the will of the people. Kind of like how we donated to Red Cross, but perhaps more meaningful. Sending a text isn’t action. Going out and volunteering is.
Maybe we can all tell a short story about a homeless person. Maybe we can all photograph communities in need. (We have the tools.) Maybe we could actually help one another and brag about it. While I have no examples of this, it’s something I’m strongly intrigued by – using social media to better our social actions.