Being Modern: Camera pranks

 

With cameraphones thrust in front of us on a daily basis, sometimes it's difficult just to smile pleasantly… So, as a "witty" and "zany" alternative, why not partake in one of the following: "planking" (lying face down with arms and legs straight), "owling" (crouching on top of something with a blank expression), or even "Batmanning" (hanging vertically by your feet, above)?

Now the latest point-and-pose craze, popularised by students in Newcastle, is "milking": people posting video of themselves pouring milk over their heads in a public place. It's certainly less risky than the other poses (unless you're lactose-intolerant), but it still begs the question: why?

Perhaps, for the flashmob generation, such fads are a further way to show off that all-important "unconventional" side while sharing images that speak the universal language of humour. Or perhaps it just shows that some students have too much time on their hands. Either way, with about 2.7 billion Facebook "likes" available every day, each new photo fad has a huge potential following and (the ultimate this), the opportunity to "go viral".

But these stunts do not always end well. In 2009 seven medical staff were suspended for lying down on duty while planking on resuscitation trollies, ward floors and a heli-pad at Swindon's Great Western Hospital. Tragically, 20-year-old Acton Beale died after attempting the same stunt on a seventh-floor balcony in Brisbane.

Cue the second wave of "safe" photo fads, such as milking – which, although pointless and involving spilt milk, appears to offer less opportunity to end in tears. Or does it? Last February, three teenagers from Virginia uploaded a video to YouTube showing them "gallon smashing" – a US variant of the craze. Within a week, it received 400,000 views but now the youths are facing criminal charges for destruction of property and disorderly conduct.

Next time, perhaps it will be easier just to try smiling.

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