Staying at home on the couch is boring. Hanging out at the mall is passé. Sure, you could go outside, but sitting is limited to uncomfortable lawn furniture, folding chairs or, well, the ground.
Or is it?
The tried-and-true hammock has made a resurgence in the last several years, a low-cost and lightweight way to literally hang out outdoors, whether it be in the woods, a local park, a college campus or your own backyard.
Mocking it up
Short for hammocking — because presumably saying the whole word doesn't convey how chill the activity is — mocking is simply the practice of stringing up some hammocks anywhere there are enough trees or posts and relaxing with others. Or perhaps there's a double meaning, and by engaging in the practice, you're mocking all other forms of relaxing.
Either way, the mocking trend garnered attention in the earlier part of the decade as college campuses and some cities saw an uptick in hammock use. Teens and young adults were wrapping up hammocks as places to nap, study or simply meet up with friends and chat in an environment that wasn't a dorm lounge or a stuffy indoor venue. Honestly, though, the point is to do as little as possible.
Two students at the University of Michigan talk in a hammock. (Photo: PunkToad/flickr)
"It comes as no surprise that the goal of mocking is to, well, not really do much at all," Clint Carlson wrote for 50 Campfires. "I couldn't be happier about this trend. Between coursework and sports, most kids barely have time to eat these days, and it's still important that they find time to do nothing at all."
Minneapolis was a hot spot for the craze in the middle of the decade. Multiple stories were written about teens stringing up hammocks in parks around the city and simply hanging out.
"Pretty much everyone I know does this," teenager Vaughn Hill told the MinnPost in 2015. "When people want to do something but they don't know what they want to do, you can kind of just hang out and say you're doing something, I guess. I've got my bike and my backpack and my hammock and I'm good."
"Just chilling," Patrick Lockwood told Minnesota's WCCO. "Just set up wherever you want — on a tree most likely — and you just chill."
Hammocks tied up between trees on an Arkansas college campus. (Photo: Farther Along/flickr)
Despite the fact that it's been running for a while, mocking is still common, especially on college campuses.
"It's huge here," Cory Barker, assistant professor in residence for journalism at Bradley University in Peoria, told MNN. "Students fill the quad with the things. There's usually more people on those than doing traditional 'college' activities like football, frisbee, etc."
It's not too surprising, either. A 2011 study published in Current Biology found that swinging helped ease people from a wakeful state into a nap, among other relaxing effects. And, like Carolson wrote, it's good to find time to do nothing at all, especially when you're (hopefully) studying a lot.
Of course, any trend will have a bit of a backlash. Some cities and campuses have politely pushed back on mocking, citing concerns over tree health and mockers' own safety.
Northwest Missouri State University, home of the Missouri State Arboretum, is a great place to hitch up a hammock, but students consistently doing so led to fears of girdling the trees. The same happened at Michigan State University, which banned the use of hammocks strapped to trees in 2016 and instead installed designated posts for students to mock it up. Iowa State students applied carpet squares to the trees when they were mocking to give the trees a little extra padding.
Mocking is a great group activity, if done safely and correctly. (Photo: Digital Aesthetica/flickr)
If you and your friends are eager to start mocking, you're going to need a hammock, obviously. The hammocks out there have advanced beyond the familiar robe hammock. And that's a good thing for mocking, too, since rope hammocks are heavy and often use a spreader bar. They're fine if you want to have a hammock around the yard, but if you want some choice about where you mock, you'll need a different kind of hammock.
First thing you'll need to make sure of is that you get a hammock that doesn't need nails or penetrative mounting fixtures. These can harm the tree's overall health, and you definitely don't want that. Instead, tree saver straps made of soft webbing are the way to go.
From there, it's a matter of choosing the type of hammock that suits you best. Brazilian-style hammocks, which tend to be brightly colored and pod-like, are popular options, but they can be a little heavy if you're walking a long way. Your best bet for overall ease of use, weight and comfort is a camping hammock. These are most often made of nylon, the same type of fabric used for parachutes. They're durable and very light, making them ideal if you just want to pick up and go mock with some friends. They also tend toward the cheaper end of the spectrum, though many don't include straps, so you'll have to buy those separately.
Regardless of what you select, be sure to know the local regulations around putting up a hammock before you do. Nothing harshes a good mock vibe more than a municipal fine.