Just when I finally got up enough nerve to join the whole planking craze that hit the U.S. over the last year, another trend has come along. It’s called batmanning, and I’m a little discouraged.
In case you’ve missed out on all the excitement, batmanning is just one in a line of social media phenomena that involves taking pictures of people doing strange things in public. I will bring you up to speed:
Planking – This is a popular and well documented ritual of publicly laying facedown, stiff-as-a-board, with arms touching the sides. The planker must be photographed, and evidence is shared online. I have never attempted to plank, although I once fell asleep in a doctor’s office in the same position. Unfortunately, a teenager captured it on his cell phone. He then exclaimed, “Way cool,” before posting it on his Facebook page.
Owling – This lesser known practice consists of posing crouched, like an owl, in unexpected places, such as on top of a public structure or in the middle of a sporting event. I can’t properly owl, as once I am in the necessary crouching position, it takes at least an hour and four assistants to get me back up, which proves to be too complicated and time consuming.
Horsemaning – A trend that took its name from the Headless Horseman, this involves considerable forethought and creativity. Two people pose for a picture so that a subject’s body appears to be decapitated. Talk about a buzz kill. One person has to be the head, and the other the body. I’m not kidding. Google it if you don’t believe me. When I asked a friend to participate in horsemaning, she just looked at me blankly and told me I needed to see a therapist.
Batmanning – And now we come to the good stuff. Purdue students are actually getting the credit for coming up with this one (Go Boilermakers!). This involves the fine art of hanging upside down by your feet (like a bat) from public structures. Whether your hands are at your side or folded across your chest is completely up to you.
My first reaction to batmanning was: what if you fall? It’s not like you can whip your feet around to land, cat-like, firmly on your feet. You will most likely bash your head on a hard surface, which would be a drawback. Being the serious journalist that I am, I immediately contacted my nephew, who is a sophomore at Purdue, in order to get his reaction. When I asked him for his thoughts, he simply replied, “It seems pretty dumb to me.”
My second reaction to batmanning was this: do you need special shoes? The answer, quite sadly, is no. There are no official batmanning shoes with special hooks, velcro or steel brackets. You just have to be able to keep your ankles at a 90-degree angle while supporting your entire weight … upside down. I have a suspicion that wearing a helmet would somehow be frowned upon.
I’m thinking about inventing some sort of inflatable pillow that could be placed underneath the batmanner, just in case. Obviously, I would call it The Bat Bumper. But probably by the time I get the patent and a prototype, this practice will be old news and a new fad will take its place.
In the meantime, I’m going to have to decline any batmanning invitations. There’s no way I’m hanging upside down in public. But perhaps at the doctor’s office …