Planking vs. Owling vs. Horsemaning

Three internet photo memes battle for internet photo meme dominance.

Geoffrey Goldenby Geoffrey Golden

It used to be, if your friend was tagged doing something stupid in a Facebook photo, it was just an embarrassment. Now he might actually be participating in a beloved photo meme! Not sure which category to put your friend’s new profile pic into? Here’s our helpful quick-guide to “planking” and its imitators.



Planking (image via) is when a person or multiple persons lie completely still and straight, face down, imitating wooden plank(s). The origins are controversial – some say it was invented in the United Kingdom in 2008, where it was called “The Lying Down Game.” However, comedian Tom Green claims he invented the practice in 1994 on his public access show:

Planking celebrities include Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, and other people in need of our constant attention. Meanwhile, rapper and walking meme Xzibit took to Twitter to call planking “THE dumbest shit ever.” He even brought up a connection between planking and slavery, which was later confirmed by the Washington Post:

“’To plank’ was not necessarily a verb used by slave ship merchants and captains […] But the planks ‘of the lower deck are precisely where millions of Africans were forced to lie and sleep on the Middle Passage, in conditions of utter horror that defy description.’”

Yo, I heard you like planking, so I put sub-memes inside your larger planking meme, including…



Owling [image via] is when a person perches themselves on something and makes big eyes, like an owl. ORLY? So far, the Owls of Ga'hoole have not been reached for comment on this meme.

The practice began in July 2011 on Reddit. Owling is still pretty young, so celebrities haven’t had a chance to ruin it yet, as far as I can tell.



Horsemaning (image via) is when two people – who love each other very much – take a photo together where it appears that they’re one person who has been beheaded. This began more recently than Owling, in August 2011 on Buzzfeed, but is already being performed awkwardly by Playboy playmates:

So which is the best meme? Scientifically speaking, they’re all awful. Try “coning” instead:

Geoffrey Golden is the Editor in Chief of The Devastator: The Quarterly Comedy Magazine For Humans! [Header image via.]