The consistently surprising thing about Internet trends, or memes, isn’t the novelty or short shelf life, it’s the astonishing world-wide reach of a stupid joke with the help of the Internet.
Take “planking,” a craze that started in the UK and stretched across the boundless Internet to Thailand, Australia, the US, and beyond. Plankers lay face down with stiff arms and legs in any place they can manage, snap a picture, and post it on the Web. It’s all about the meme one-upmanship to plank in the craziest place possible.
But forget planking, it’s old news - “owling” is the au courant meme challenge. As the name suggests, it entails perching, on the nuttiest ledge available of course, and staring off into the distance for a photograph.
According to the site Know Your Meme, owling started on July 11 on the Web-sharing site Reddit when one pioneer posted a threat titled “Owling: Because Planking is so Two Months Ago” with a picture of a woman owling. The gauntlet was thrown.
There’s also “coning,” ordering an ice cream cone from a drive-through restaurant, and then grabbing it by the ice cream instead of the cone from the waiter at the window; and “leisure diving,” striking a pose, as if lounging, while diving into a swimming pool.
What are the punch lines on these global inside jokes? At the core, they’re stupid gags that make friends laugh and strangers balk for the 10 seconds it takes to pull it off. And really, that’s 10 seconds too long.
(Angela Simaan is a producer in Al Arabiya’s Washington, DC bureau. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org)