Planking is a fast-growing, but possibly dangerous, game – started in England, most popular in Australia, but spreading worldwide – in online society where people post up their pictures of lying down on some of the most unusual and obscure places.

How does one plank? The rules are simple. The planker (person who planks) lies face down, palms attached to the side, and pretends to be a wooden board. The more innovative is the setting, the more attention you get.

People have been planking on the street, on popular tourist places, outdoor grill, on a basketball hoop, and even on an airplane and post their pictures in online social networking groups such as Facebook. The numbers are keep increasing and there are now several Facebook pages with over 100,000 “likes”.

While planking appears to be a simple and silly way of having fun and killing the time, there are growing numbers of concerns about the problems they are causing.

In 2009, there were doctors and nurses in Swindon, England who were planking as a group while on duty. When their supervisor found out their pictures on the Facebook, the plankers were suspended. In May 2011, Nate Shaw (20) in Australia was charged because he was lying down on top of a police car.

And the first reported casualty came on May 15, 2011 when 20-year-old Acton Beale of Australia tried to plank on a balcony on a seventh floor and fell to his death.

This sparked the issue, and now even Julia Gillard, the Australian prime minister, has spoken out disapprovingly about planking.

“There’s a difference between a harmless bit of fun done somewhere that's really safe and taking a risk with your life,” said Gillard. “Everybody likes a bit of fun, but focus has to be on keeping yourself safe first.”

Police deputy commissioner of Queensland Ross Barnett, also has spoken against planking in extreme situations.

“If you want to take a photograph of yourself planking on a park bench two feet off the ground, there are no risks to your health with that, but ... when you start doing it seven stories up or lying across a railway line or in a range of other places that invite death or serious injury, that's what we have a concern about. Ultimately, is it worth life in a wheelchair to take a funny photo to impress somebody you don't know on the internet? Barnett asked.

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