It's not a local thing. Not by far. It's a sick trend that's sweeping North America. You see it in movies and TV shows too.
And the very sad thing is, and I am ashamed to admit this, but before I totally came to terms with what happened to me as a kid and beofre it happened a few years ago, my friends and I would do that...*prepares herself for rocks thrown at her* I heard a joke and told it to them and then whenever any of us poked the other, we would playfully say ra*e! because the joke was as follows:
There was this alien who went into this store and started poking the cashier. He would do this everyday, finally the cashier got so angry that he yelled at the alien, "ifyou don't stop poking me I'm going to pull down your pants and rip your balls off!" Well the next day the alien came back and poked him. The casheir screamed, "That's it!" and pulled down the aliens pants. He looked up at the alien and said, "hey, you don't have any balls, how do you all have s*x?" and the alien just smiles and goes, "Poke."
So yeah...but after everything happened I made my friends stop doing it...I just...I couldn't stand hearing the word so often, and in such a wrong way...I'm sorry...
BTW, back to the topic...I tried calling a friend of mine the other day when I got scared, she texted me the next moring and said, "Don't you ever call me that many times that late again! If you have an emergency, get someone else to help you. I'm tired of it!"