Showing posts with label Twitter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Twitter. Show all posts

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Is #plankin what happens when we lose touch with our history, or is it just fun?

I saw this trending the other day and thought it was just stupid. But I have seen more and more people uploading @plankin photos. Why is that ownership of this is being laid at the feet of black youth? As I think about it more (I tried not to), why can't it just be considered stupid, harmless, fun? It started in England, let's lay some kind of heavy historical chip on them.
Is 'planking' harmless fun or fundamentally offensive?

Have you ever felt the urge to "plank" something? While it started out as an Internet stunt -- "planking" has become this year's craze -- inspiring intrepid, amateur stunt men and women lying with their face down, usually in a public place and then posting the photos to the web (preferably Twitter). And it's not just something white kids are doing. It's been a worldwide meme that's been a viral phenomenon since at least this spring, with the widely publicized death of a 20-year-old who fell off a balcony trying to take a picture of himself planking.

But now, the concept of planking is becoming more and more visible in references made on Twitter by members of the hip-hop community.

Within the black community, some of the photos are arguably horrendous. One shows a woman with her head in a toilet bowl, hands to the side, feet against the wall. Others show people in sexual positions. Body outstretched on a stool.

The rules of planking require you to keep your body in a straight position with your hands to the side, face down. A humiliating pose to say the least. The term that black folks have been using is #plankin or #planking.

CBS Sports has showcased several photos by Orlando Magic's Gilbert Arenas and center Dwight Howard whom they called "two of the most prolific plankers". Photos showed the two planking at a hotel and throughout Orlando's Amway center.

As the wave of planking photos built to a wave and then crested yesterday at least one person made people think. Comedian Katt Williams posted a picture on Twitter showing a man being arrested, face down on the ground, hands cuffed behind his back. The caption on the photo: PLANKING, You're Doing It Wrong. Williams added the message "Black people been #Plankin for years."

And that's what's gotten so many in the black community shocked by this Internet craze which trended heavily on Tuesday. There were multitudes of mentions and even people who said the word "planking" was derived from a slavery era term. It allegedly described the prostrate position slaves had to take when traveling over the Atlantic.

From the Wikipedia page on "slave ship":
Often the ships, also known as Guineamen, transported hundreds of slaves, who were chained tightly to plank beds. For example, the slave ship Henrietta Marie carried about 200 slaves on the long Middle Passage. They were confined to cargo holds with each slave chained with little room to move

Another mention of the word, describes the "bed" for slaves who were chained onto ships. From the book, Upon these Shores: Themes in the African-American Experience, 1600 to the Present:
Some ships had tiny bunks, really nothing more than shelves, on which slaves could recline; in others, the slaves lay side by side on the planking, rolling with the ship, bodies virtually touching, for weeks on end.

The term "slave plank" also brings up mention of political platforms or "planks" that were used during political conventions in the 19th Century. Frederick Douglass would argued the "anti-slavery plank".

Still, given the similarity with the visual references of slave ships and stacking bodies in chains during the slave trade, evidence also points to the planking position as being one of humiliation and confinement for African people during the Middle Passage.

What we know about planking is that it's derived from the Laying Down Game (a.k.a Playing Dead) meme that spread throughout England and Australia sometime around 2009 and seemed to reach its peak in 2010.

It became known as "planking" sometime later because participants try to get their bodies to resemble wooden boards or planks.

However, any intended allusion to slavery has yet to be proven. As some would suggest, African-Americans have been taking to "planking" for the competitive factor, the same reason that people stuffed into phonebooths and Volkwagons back in the 1950s.

Mass fads such as those were all about oneupmanship, recorded in a still photo -- but without the potential viral audience that the modern era can deliver. With athletes and celebrities talking about planking and showing themselves in the act, it's only natural that the massive young black Twitter and Facebook community will follow, even without realizing that it recalls the slave trade that ended several hundred years ago.

Photos: Gilbert Arenas in a grand piano
Dwight Howard on top of a garbage can at the Am
Gilbert Arenas planking in the median at an expressway toll booth
Dwight and Gilbert together on a double-decker luggage cart at the Grand Bohemian
Dwight Howard on top of a riding lawnmower

Monday, November 30, 2009

Gang turf wars on Twitter?

The city's street gangs are becoming tweet gangs. Manhattan's young thugs have turned to Twitter, and the cops who track them are fast behind, the Daily News has learned.

It's old-school crime meets new technology: attacks being plotted - and thwarted - 140 characters at a time. One investigator recently warned parents and teens that the bastion of OMG and LOL has been infiltrated by violent crews waging turf wars.

A boy shot in the leg weeks earlier on Lenox Ave. may have been targeted because of a battle the Original Young Gangsters crew started on Twitter. "It's horrible," NYPD Lt. Kevin O'Connor of Manhattan North's gang intelligence unit told a forum in Harlem.

A basic search of the social-networking site for OYG or Jeff Mob, the gang based in the Jefferson Houses in East Harlem, yields shout-outs and throw downs. "I knoe bitches from oyg that would dead mob yah s--t in harlem," one girl wrote in a series of tweets aimed at drawing out a rival for a fight.

Investigators are monitoring the traffic in hopes of sweeping up gang bangers before the bloodshed - and searching Twitter after attacks for clues. "It is another tool ... just like old phone records," a police source said. "We can go through them [messages] to track these guys."

Harlem pastor Vernon Williams, who runs Perfect Peace Ministry Youth Outreach, said his staff uses Twitter, MySpace and instant messaging to keep track of 4,000 at-risk teens. A week ago, Twitter helped the volunteers stop a street war after they saw the Get Money Boys, based in the St. Nicholas Houses on W. 127 St., exchanging threats with Goodfellas and The New Dons, based just a few blocks north.

"They were threatening to go and hurt two people," said Williams, 51, who sent staff out to find the tweeters.

An NYPD spokesman and the Manhattan district attorney's office declined comment on the phenomenon, and Twitter did not respond to e-mails.

Gang members who grew up in the digital age are blasé about their tweeting. One 15-year-old in the 28 Gunnaz gang said it's just like any other "form of communication," except that the world can listen in on the conversation.

That feature can actually fuel disputes. A heated exchange between rivals on the service can turn into a full-fledged beef when others get wind, he said.

A 15-year-old nicknamed Lil V, who belongs to The New Dons, says Twitter is useful for "settin' up the fights" and making plans.

He seemed aware that the cops or anyone else could follow them - and said the gang takes precautions, using lingo gangsters from an earlier era wouldn't even understand. "We got our own page," Lil V said. "Our page is private."