Young people are so crazy and adventurous that they do anything, even the most ridiculous thing, for a good time. Imagine lying face down on your stomach on a table, under a car or even on the top of a roof, and taking pictures of yourself lying in that position to paste them on Facebook and other social media sites, then after that, everyone considers you to be cool and happening. This is what is currently going down in Austrailia, where a new craze called planking has sprung up and has literally taken over the leisure time of almost all young people.
Planking started off as a harmless, artistic and fun thing to do, literally something stupid that would get people laughing. But it has quickly evolved into something that’s competitive, with plankers trying to outdo each other with the locations at which they plank. The more dangerous the location is, such as lying on a rooftop of a building or lying on the road with moving cars, the more brownie points one gets for being the most daring therefore coolest planker. It has also evolved into a space that young people can identity themselves and has provided a unique platform of self-expression.
Planking seems to be down-right ridiculous because it is quite difficult to understand what joy comes from lying face down on your stomach in some random place only to take a picture of it. It creates a perception that those young people taking part in this new urban trend are looking for something to do and a social space where they can be free to try out new things that will set them apart from the rest of society.
But then again, all new trends that are started up by young people seem to be, and in a sense, are ridiculous and can be dangerous and seem to be driven by the need for an identity. In South Africa, train surfing is a major trend amongst some youth, where they jump on and off moving trains and surf on the top of them while ducking the electrical overheads. From various newspaper reports about train surfing, the young people (mostly guys) say that it gives them a trill and also a social status of being cool and daring. Train surfing has proved to be dangerous as quite a number of participants in the sport (as reported in the media) have lost their lives while surfing on trains. Parkour is another big urban trend or sport that most young people have found thrill and excitement in. Parkour involves participants running along a route that is considered as an obstacle, usually any building structure in the city, and they attempt to move through these obstacles through jumping, climbing or even rolling. With Parkour comes the philosophy of self-discipline and preservation, as well as self-expression and freedom. So this sport pulls young people in with philosophies of a personal freedom to just be and feel alive.
So it could be safe to say that apart from young people being crazy and adventurous, they are also looking for a space where they can be unconstrained by the responsibilities of life and just have fun in their youth. These crazy urban sports or trends also provide something that young people can identify with and a space where they can belong. Planking is just one of the new youth phenomena where young people feel a sense of identity and care-freeness, and also a place to belong and have fun. Planking might just spread and become a world-wide phenomenon, and who knows if also South African youth will jump on the bandwagon and lie face down for a Facebook pic!