I recently heard about the growing internet craze known as “planking” where you stiffen your body into a plank position and have photos taken at strange locations. It’s so big there have even been ‘death by planking’ incidents, and it’s sooooooo big, that Rosario Dawson planked on Jimmy Kimmel’s desk!
The website www.peopleplanking.com is an online community for plankers which provides rules for proper planking and a forum for planking discussions. The community rates planking photos based on difficulty and outrageousness. Location is also key; people are encouraged to add the GPS location of their plank, with countless photos showing “planks” on famous landmarks.
Dumbfounded by this craze, I probed to uncover its meaning and purpose. After asking countless people who partake in this bizarre activity and searching for answers online, I discovered that it’s simply one of those weird existential things; the only reason people do it, is to be a part of a community of like-minded people.
This got me thinking about planking’s potential as a force for good. Could planking be about more than a bunch of bored, narcissistic teens needing an outlet? I mean, dancing was just an amusement before FlashMobs showed up. Now dancing has a whole new purpose.
Turns out, there are lots of people using the powers of planking for good–and there are vital lessons we can take from it:
- Plank Society uses planking as a means of raising awareness about breast cancer
- 75-year-old Nancy planks to draw attention to to recycling
- Casas por Cristo planks to raise interest in engaging people to volunteer for mission trips
- The Taiwanese Pujie Girls plank to promote travel to tourist locations, bring attention to the plight of stray animals, etc.
- Other small groups are planking to raise money for medical research, etc.
While it’s inherently meaningless, these groups have reinvented planking and harnessed its tremendous power.
What These Socially Minded Plankers Can Teach Us
- People enjoy being a part of something bigger than themselves. We are programmed to crave community
- Their loyalty to these communities and causes stretch far and wide- there’s no limit to the time, energy and money they’ll spend to continue being a part of it
- Where there are communities of like-minded people, there is hope for creating social change
Given this, consider how you can tap into something people are already doing. Empowering an already active and connected community is a great- and yes, inexpensive- shortcut to drawing attention and gaining new audiences.
There’s no stopping these fad-happy-folks, so use them to your advantage- and ultimately to the advantage of the community as a whole- ’cause heck, you may even have fun doing it!