I HATE this “holiday.”
So let’s define what makes April Fools a thing. (A) Pranks and (B) LIES.
When people talk to me about it, I tend to say April Fools is the day in which we glorify bullies. Because let’s be clear here; pranks and lies are a breeding ground for bullies and abusers. So even if you are just being funny; you are giving permission for that person/those people for whom something like “empathy” is a bad word… well, all you’re doing is telling them this kind of behavior actually is acceptable.
Yes, I am arguing that just like telling rape jokes informs rapists that other people think their actions are (ever) acceptable; your April Fools actions tells bullies & abusers that what they do every day must have some kind social acceptability.
There are exceptions. Google has generally been good at April Fools; saying they were going to use toilets/sewer systems to get internet to people; scratch & sniff searching; rickrolling youtube viewers; translating animal sounds into human language; the pokemon map challenge (probably my favorite).
Here is what I see the difference being. Putting out broccoli in a donut box isn’t horrible; but if I’m having a really shitty day and I go into the break room and I have that moment of “oh, wow. Someone did something NICE for us.” and then open it and find broccoli – “UGH. Damnit, that would have made my day so much nicer.” At the end of the day you didn’t hurt me. But the person who posts on facebook they are pregnant “april fools” – to every woman struggling with conception – that shit hurt. To the woman who is suffering in silence (because society says she should “get over it”) from a miscarriage – that shit HURT. And that isn’t a far step from one prank to the other. And then putting reese’s pieces into a bowl with skittles and M&M’s might seem funny – until someone with a peanut allergy takes a “safe snack” and ends up in the ER (or worse).
And there are always people who take things too far. Putting inedibles in food and handing it out randomly (one I’ve seen is replacing gum with play doh – it isn’t poisonous) or disgusting foods (caramel onions anyone?). But how the hell is that actually funny? Ruining clothes or forcing someone to spend hours cleaning up (again – things like “planting grass in someone’s keyboard” or wrapping their entire cubicle in wrapping paper): How the hell is that funny? How long would it take to clean that shit up? More than 10 minutes? That would be a very annoying +10 minutes.
So despite the fact that funny pranks can happen; I hate this holiday. I hate seeing a day which allows bullies to delight themselves in others’ pain. I hate seeing parents glorify bullying behaviors for their children so their children repeat this shit every day after. Because that’s what happens -children see their parents planning/pulling these pranks; and in the worst cases they continue to “one up” themselves until someone gets hurt. Or until they find themselves isolated and don’t understand why.
So before you post a fake pregnancy on Facebook this weekend for your April Fools joke (which btw is EASTER so… maybe just go with that holiday instead anyway?) think about it – could you be posting something that causes emotional pain? Are you sure it won’t? Could someone think that your prank gives them permission to take the joke “too far” next time? Are you setting the example of empathy you want to see in others or are you delighting in the frustration of others?