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Australian dies after 'planking' on balcony, police say


Australian police say a man who plunged to his death from a seventh-floor balcony on Sunday was participating in the internet craze of "planking".


Planking involves someone lying flat on their stomach in unusual and sometimes dangerous situations, and posting photographs on social media websites.


Police said the dead man, in his 20s, fell from a balcony railing in Brisbane while a friend photographed him.


The man's name has not been released pending notification of his family.


Planking arrest


The craze has gone viral in recent weeks, with one Facebook page boasting 90,000 fans and hundreds of photos of people lying on chimneys, escalators, camels, and other objects.


"This morning we have seen a young man take this activity a step further and attempt to plank on a balcony," said Queensland Police Deputy Commissioner Ross Barnett.


"Unfortunately he has tragically fallen to his death."


Queensland police last week warned "plankers" of the dangers of the activity, after a man was caught allegedly planking on a police car.


The 20-year-old was charged with being on police equipment without lawful excuse.


Sergeant Matthew Russell, of Gladstone police, told the Brisbane Courier-Mail newspaper that planking could be dangerous, and practitioners may find themselves charged with "unauthorised high risk activity".


"While we appreciate the activity is light-hearted fun, putting yourself and others at risk and breaking the law will not be tolerated," he said.


Mr Barnett said the death on Sunday is "what we've been fearing".


"As planking gains popularity, there may be more injuries and potentially further deaths," he said.




Who, What, Why: What is planking?


A man has died in Australia after taking part in the internet phenomenon of planking. But what is it and where did the craze come from?


The victim, a man in his 20s, fell from a balcony railing in Brisbane while a friend photographed him, according to police.


The phenomenon of planking involves lying face down in a public place - the stranger the better - and posting photos on social networking sites such as Facebook. Aficionados lie expressionless with a straight body, hands by their sides and toes pointing into the ground.


Two groups claim to have invented the prank - either in Somerset in 2000 as the "lying down game" or eight years later in South Australia as planking. Both groups have rival Facebook sites boasting more than 100,000 fans.


Planking has grown in popularity, particularly in Australia where there has been huge media coverage. An Australian rugby league player David "Wolfman" Williams celebrates scoring by planking, while one of the nation's leading chatshow hosts Kerri-Anne Kennerley opened a show last week by planking on the TV sofa.


In the same week police served a trespass notice on a man caught planking on a squad car.


Now, following the first planking death, Queensland police have warned pranksters that they may be charged with "unauthorised high-risk activity" and Prime Minister Julia Gillard has advised people to be careful.


Lying down


Despite its Australian popularity, the earliest practitioners were Gary Clarkson and Christian Langdon in 2000, who started lying down in public places in Taunton in order to be photographed. They called it the lying down game.


Then in 2007, their friend Daniel Hoppin took the phenomenon online. "They'd started lying down in bars and clubs to try to spin people out. So we began a Facebook group to see who could get the craziest photo."


The British media latched onto the craze in July 2009, with the result that the Lying Down Game Facebook page went from 8,000 to 35,000 members. It now has 107,000 fans.


In September 2009, A&E staff at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon were suspended for playing the game while on duty.


But why lying down?


"Because it's utterly ridiculous," says Hoppin, who now works in the building trade in Sydney. "If you go on holiday, you take a photo of yourself in front of the Eiffel Tower or the Leaning Tower of Pisa. We thought it would be hilarious if you're not interested and lying down instead."


In Australia, the activity was named planking.


"Planking was a term myself and two other mates came up with roughly in the summer of 2008 or 2009," says 25 year-old Sam Weckert, a carpenter living in South Australia.


It started as a prank on dance floors and went on to balancing flat on low-lying objects such as pot plants, post boxes and public bins. Friends then took it to Melbourne, at which point Weckert decided to create a Facebook fan page to share "plank" photos.


"It didn't really blow up until a few local radio stations got hold of it, ran competitions, and it grew very quickly. I never thought it would get to 5,000 or 10,000.


But now we have over 120,000 fans."


The growth of planking is an example of the "meme" - an idea that goes viral online and becomes a global trend. Recent examples are Lolcats, Hitler Downfall parodies, flashmobbing and extreme ironing.


"Exhibitionism has been around since the dawn of time," says Nate Lanxon, editor of wired.co.uk. "YouTube and digital cameras just takes it into a whole new realm. The ultimate goal is for your photo to become the most popular."


The essence of planking is not lying "stiff as a board" but juxtaposing it with an unexpected place, says Lanxon. The death in Australia will only accelerate the meme of planking, he says, as people become curious and decide to Google the term.


But for one of the founders of the lying down game, the death has changed everything "Perhaps the magic has gone now," says Hoppin. "I probably won't do it again. People need to concentrate on the humorous ones rather than the extreme, dangerous ones."




So are you a planker? Do you plank too much? Weird shit... :hmm:


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I'm still trying to really work out this planking shit. If you lay flat on something, you're a planker? So, If I get photographed laying asleep in bed, I'm a planker?

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Fucking unusual public places. Fucking shit fad. If it genuinely was with a space in the middle then it'd be interesting. He's decided to make a space in the middle for no reason, that's his choice.

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Just saw a few photos on facebook by my friends doing this today. First time I've seen it, and now heard about it.


A bit "meh" about it now. Would probably be funnier if I caught it on earlier.

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How is this funny like?


"Oh yeah they're lying face down LOL, it's so random!!"


Piss off and think of something clever you unfunny cunts.


:lol: Eloquently summed up. I concur.

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Guest Stephen927

There can be the rare picture where it's funny, most are shit.



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