Is Owling The New Planking? ‘Never!’ One UT Grad Says in an Epic, Funny Takedown

When we at The Alcalde researched trends around campus this summer for the July|August issue, planking was just getting hot. People were lying around in the funniest places around Austin—and taking pictures of it.

Stephen Mahoney, BS ’11, member of the Facebook group Planking Austin, helped us put a UT face on the trend. He contributed photos of himself to the magazine lying across a sculpture, The West, and on Littlefield Fountain in view of the Tower.

In the past few weeks, there’s been lots of buzz about owling—another act of posing for a funny picture, but this time crouching or perching like an owl.

So we went back to Mahoney to find out what he thought…and we got a little more than we bargained for. Read and savor his comments for yourself:

“Owling is an activity for those who are unwilling to risk getting their shirt dirty in the act of planking. Much of the humor of planking comes from its pose being so far out of the norm of human behavior in a given location. This humor is diminished significantly in owling due to the crouching position being much more socially acceptable than lying flat on one’s face. A person could even owl without getting a strange look from passersby, which makes owling an activity accessible to those who lack the guts to defy social norms (i.e., a wimp).

“Therefore, the only way an owler would be able to get respect is to owl on a location that is high up or difficult to balance on and to truly simulate an owl. The best owlers would be led to higher and higher perches, which would quickly lead to a danger that could not be sustainable (unlike those in the planking biz who always plank responsibly).

“Planking is an art form, an expression of creativity and athletic ability that has become a lifestyle for many people. Owling, on the other hand, pushes inanity to its limit and will never be good for more than a cheap laugh or two.

“Planking has been grouped along with the lesser owling as part of an Internet meme that has exposed it to the masses. Now that planking has become mainstream, I often see pictures of high schoolers on Facebook planking with little ingenuity or originality. True plank form seems to be completely forgotten, as I see regular people and celebrities alike planking with hunched backs and faces smiling at the camera.

“This exploitation of my previous pastime has become too much for me to bear, and it is with deep regret that I have announced my retirement from planking. I know that some true planking innovators still exist, and I hope that they can restore this art form to its former glory.

“However, it hurts me too much deep down to be associated with something that I once loved so much now that it has gone so bad. I will be attempting to pursue my passion in a new field that has not yet been invaded by the mainstream and has the potential to never be. Possible pictures to come (hint: research extreme ironing).”

Left: Photo courtesy Stephen Mahoney. Right: Creative Commons photo by slworking2 via Flickr.


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