From fad to fatal

Through social media networks, “planking,” an activity in which people post pictures of themselves laying down in odd or humorous locations, has become a worldwide trend. It has lead people to do this…

Photo courtesy of mauritiushot.com

and this…

Photo courtesy of metro.co.uk

 and this…

Photo courtesy of the Montreal Gazette

Over 122,000 individuals like the “Planking Australia” Facebook page which features a wall full of individuals planking in various locations. The game began in the early 2000s as the “lying down” game, which was popular across Europe and Japan, but Australians made the trend a worldwide phenomenon by coining the term “planking.”

Although the Facebook page urges users to be creative but careful when planking, a 20-year-old Australian male died last night after falling from a seven-story railing where he was trying to lay face down. Australian police are encouraging people to stop participating in the fad because of the safety risks it presents.

Planking truly seems to be an Internet phenomenon; few of these individuals are planking just for the heck of it. They’re planking to post pictures and garner attention online. The Internet easily fuels fads; once something goes viral, it’s nearly impossible to stop the buzz that accompanies popular online movements. For companies and products, this viral characteristic is key to a strong PR/marketing campaign. But, what about for fads like planking that are potentially dangerous, and in yesterday’s case, fatal? I don’t necessarily believe that an authoritative entity should be able to censor trends like planking, but does that mean we should continue to fuel harmful fads in an effort to avoid censorship and embrace free expression?

(And as a side note, by posting this blog, am I simply contributing to this potentially dangerous Internet phenomenon? For all of my faithful readers out there: please, don’t try this at home.)

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About Abby Ecker

PR pro and healthy living blogger in the First State
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