Owling, coning, planking: creative ways to be safe in high school

Mary Kate Bowers "owls" on top of a car in a Lowes Foods parking lot. She spent a Friday night owling in random places with friends.
Mary Kate Bowers "owls" on top of a car in a Lowes Foods parking lot. She spent a Friday night owling in random places with friends.

“One day I was at Harris Teeter and decided to lay down randomly in front of the store. I got the weirdest looks, but it was so funny!” said Claire Coward, junior. Coward partakes in what is known as planking–a new phenomena sweeping the high school nation. It involves laying down, straight as a board, in unconventional places.

Planking has its origins in England, where two kids created a game the called “The Lying Down Game.” The game slowly spread around the world and when it reached America 14 years later, boom! People everywhere became infatuated with planking.

“It’s not just a hobby; it’s a lifestyle,” said Coward.

When asked the reasons why she does such things, Coward said, “It is hilarious because we just try to find the weirdest or craziest places to plank. You have this sense of accomplishment when you find somewhere to plank that is really cool.”

People have witnessed students planking everywhere from top of cars, to balancing on fire hydrants, to laying on the roof of buildings.

Jacob Melvin, a sophomore and hard-core planker, said, “It all started when me and my friends would see pictures, and we wanted to just out-do everyone. We’ve planked on top of a basketball hoop, a bike and a soccer goal.”

However, not all students are captivated by this new craze.

Brooks Jordan, senior and non-planker, said, “I don’t particularly see the point. If people want to go plank on a roof with the risk of falling off and getting hurt, that’s their choice.”

Then for those who want to try another side of planking, there is owling. Owling incorporates crouching down in places in an attempt to look like an owl.

Coward said, “Owling is a little twist off planking that is still fun but requires less of an ab workout since you don’t have to try to balance as straight as you can on top of something.”

Meanwhile Jordan, yet again, is not a fan. He said, “Owling just looks like people are pooping.”

Planking and owling are born out of boredom, but quickly become a contest. At first, teens just want something to do, want some new way to have fun. But how is just laying down somewhere fun?

Coward said, “It kind of turns into a competition.” Many students explain that they see pictures of other students going planking or owling in crazy places and think, “I can beat that.” Out of this competitiveness comes some of the more outrageous and spontaneous photos. Every planker or owler wants the reputation of being the best, the most hard-core.

Rachel Radulovich demonstrates proper planking technique. She enjoys finding random places around school to plank.

Planking and owling can be dangerous too though. On May 21, 2011, a 20-year-old Australian died after losing his balance while planking on a seventh story balcony.

For the ambitious few who want to take these shenanigans a step further, try coning. While different from owling and planking, coning still falls into that same category of unusual, competitive ways to have fun.

When coning, one must travel to a fast food restaurant and purchase an ice cream cone. When the worker attempts to hand over the cone, one seizes the ice cream, just leaving the cone. Coning diverges a bit from the path of planking and coning though. It incorporates other unsuspecting people in the prank.

Alex Churn, a junior and Goodberry’s employee, has been coned while working. Churn said, “At first I was like what the heck?! But then I realized what had happened and started laughing, but I’ve actually gone coning before.”

Not all workers are OKAY with this new coning trend. Many students reported that following their seizure of the ice cream, the attendant at the eatery would react badly such as throwing the cone down angrily on the sidewalk or yelling after “those dang kids.”

Coward, who also participates in coning activites, said, “It is just so funny especially to just see their faces when you take the ice cream.”

Jordan stays consistently cynical with his views on coning. Jordan said, “Dumb people need to find new hobbies.”

All three of these awkward acts seem to draw laughs, despite the obvious fact that there is really no point in doing them.

Teens everywhere are carrying out  these random activities; some do them to pass time, some just to get some laughs, while some want those bragging rights.  Rather than getting into trouble, sucked into doing drugs, or participating in other mischievous acts, owling, planking, and coning have taken over. Despite the risks some people take while planking, they are creative, safer ways for kids to spend time while stuck in these four years of high school.


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