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April 1, 2011

April Fool's Day

April Fool's Day is a long-standing tradition in world, dating back hundreds of years.

April Fool's Day pranks and hoaxes have been done by multi-million dollar companies, news organizations, even politicians have gone along with the joke.

In fact, there's even a list of the Top 100 April Fool's Day hoaxes of all time.

Some of these hoaxes reflect very poorly on the gullibility of society at large. The Alabama legislature voting to change the value of pi? How do you arbitrarily change a mathematical constant? But hundreds of people from all over the world called in to complain about it.

Or how about 1996, when Taco Bell announced that they had bought the Liberty Bell to help with the national debt, and had rechristened it the "Taco Liberty Bell."
"The Taco Bell Corporation announced it had bought the Liberty Bell and was renaming it the Taco Liberty Bell. Hundreds of outraged citizens called the National Historic Park in Philadelphia where the bell was housed to express their anger. Their nerves were only calmed when Taco Bell revealed, a few hours later, that it was all a practical joke. The best line of the day came when White House press secretary Mike McCurry was asked about the sale. Thinking on his feet, he responded that the Lincoln Memorial had also been sold. It would now be known, he said, as the Ford Lincoln Mercury Memorial."
Some things are so close to plausible that many otherwise smart people get taken in by them, and those are the most effective.

And the most annoying.

I just don't see the humour in making people believe something that's not true. We all complain about hoaxes, so much so that there's a web site devoted to debunking them.

So why should April 1st be any different?

Yeah, sometimes I laugh at them, but it's more often that I laugh at the gullibility than at the actual hoax. "You mean you actually believed that?" And then I feel sad for them, and for society if a huge number of people are taken in.

Do you know when April Fool's Day moved from being a minor and sometimes amusing annual event to a truly annoying, pull the sheet over your head and go back to bed day?

The rise of the Internet, and especially social media.

Twitter is often rife with unconfirmed rumours that turn out not to be true. But on April 1, it goes into overdrive, with *intentionally* misleading stuff. It started early yesterday or the day before, with the "Jackie Chan is dead!" meme.

The Internet itself has often been a rumour mill, but you can always count on almost any site that you are a member of, there will be something or someone there doing an April Fool's joke.

It's to the point that, yesterday, I tweeted that I would probably not believe anything I read on Twitter this morning, and probably this afternoon too.

I don't think I'm going to go *that* far, but you know it's bad when the "Breaking News" twitter account posts something horrible and your first thought is "I wonder if that's true."

The truly funny jokes are the ones that don't play on emotions. They might play on your gullibility (the Taco Liberty Bell? C'mon!!!), but they don't play on your heartstrings.

I know it's futile, but I want to lodge my request now.

Can we please just stop with this stuff?

Now, I'm off to my bunker. I'll see you on April 2.


  1. The biggest april fools joke I ever pulled, was being born ;-) And I did that stylishly late. No worries Dave, you are twisted enough without my making a fools joke. HUGS!

  2. LOL so your birthday's coming up? :)

    *HUGS* back!!!!

    Oh, and you've got to look at this site. It's hilarious:

  3. Take a chill pill Dave! =P I've never cared too much for April Fool's Day & I'm not big on pulling pranks on people. But I will say that the worst type of joke is stating that someone has died (i.e. Jackie Chan). Btw is the BEST! I just wish people would use it to verify information before forwarding me stupid emails. I wrote a blog about that one a couple years ago.

  4. I think I may remember that one, actually! Snopes is invaluable, isn't it? I think I've trained a few people to check there before sending around stuff.

    And I will *not* chill out! :P


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