Planking is a game that is gaining a lot of popularity where people (known as “plankers”) lie down on the ground – usually in an unusual location – and post the picture of planking on online community such as Facebook.

The rules of planking are simple, as a planking page on Facebook page posts, “You got a body, you got a Plank.” The planker must lie face down, on the ground or aerial, body straight like a wooden board, and palms attached to the side. The more innovative is the situation, the more popular it gets.

Sounds random and silly, but people are posting hundreds of pictures on Facebook of their planking activities, and the numbers are increasing.

The planking game has developed gradually in the past decade. According to Tom Meltzer of Guardian, the game traces back 14 years by two English boys Gary Clarkson and Langbon who called it “the lying down game”.

While Clarkson and Langdon do not remember what inspired their beginning, some believe the video for Radiohead song Just from 1995 to be the beginning where a man lies down on a road, ignoring the surrounded crowd – and by the end, everyone lie down together. The Washington Post suspects a 1993 film The Program might have had influence where a scene featured the quarterback lying down on the yellow line in the middle of the road as cars passed by. The scene was later deleted because some people were reported to have been killed or injured by trying to imitate the “brave” quarterback.

Clarkson and Langbon’s game continued to grow, little-by-little, until they began a Facebook group in 2007, gaining thousands of followers. Plankers take pictures of their activities, usually in an unusual – and sometimes dangerous – situation, and post them on the social network site.

One person put her picture on the stairs of a subway station, while another person put his picture of planking on a railroad. Sometimes it is a group effort – seniors of Treasure Coast High School in Port St. Lucie, Florida decided to hold a senior plank rather than a prank. If this does not amuse the viewer, there was a man who planked across two opened overhead bins on the opposite end of an airplane – his neck on one and his ankle on the other.

The game may sound like a simple and harmless way of having fun for some. However, there is a growing number of voices that oppose such activity for having caused problems. In 2009, a group of doctors and nurses in Swindon, England were suspended for planking on duty. On May 13, 2011, a 20-year-old Nate Shaw in Australia was charged for planking on a police vehicle. Two days later, there was a first reported death while planking – Acton Beale of Australia fell from a seventh floor while planking on a balcony.

Despite the risk of danger, and ironically because of the media attention they were getting, planking is gaining more popularity. As of May 27, Facebook has over 700 groups related to planking, and several planking pages have drawn over 100,000 likes.

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