The first of April - A day of fools

Published April 1, 2011

I’ve never really been a fan of April Fool’s Day. The concept of fooling people doesn’t really fill me with joy, particularly when at least 70% of the tricks are not that funny.

As use of the internet becomes more prevalent, it’s getting even harder to like the idea. A good percentage of my day is spent trying to figure out what is real and what is not on the internet. You can see many news stories, gossip columns, photoshopped pictures and nonsense articles and only some of them will have any merit of truth to them. It takes time and effort to learn how to sift the good from the bad, and it’s something I try and encourage other people to do as well.

Then, for twelve long hours at the beginning of spring, it’s a free-for-all. The object of the day is to lie, to joke, to trick, and even though people are wary, it’s still easy enough to get trapped. It’s like taking ten steps backwards every time April rolls around.

Case in point. Wordpress thought this was incredibly amusing.

Wordpress April Fool

There are apparently two versions - one where it says you have loads of views, and the other where it says you have none.

I keep a vague eye on my stats, although they’re not the be all and end all of my blogging motivation. For some people, though, the number of visitors is supremely important, particularly if it makes up part of your income.

Is this a good joke to play?

Not all the tricks are that harsh, of course. There are amusing bits and bobs scattered around the web, including Google’s confusion of fonts, and Formula One drivers tattooing their new sponsors on their arms. Sometimes people do come up with something a bit genius, and perhaps April Fool’s Day is the only way you could get away with expressing that side of your creativity.

Perhaps the problem is that not only does it clutter the internet with nonsense, but that the internet makes it so much easier for this nonsense to permeate, encouraging even the most mean-spirited of humour.

In pre-internet days, when media was confined to radio, TV, and newspapers, it was a lot more effort to make an April Fool work the way it is intended. With more riding on the joke, in terms of printing, production costs, and loyal readership, the payoff needed to be worth it.

The history of the 1st April being a day for pranks can be traced all the way back to the 16th century, and the tradition has lived on. However, those were different times, and the celebration itself seems to be mutating into something different to the original concept of sophisticated practical jokes.

Pretending you got 1000 views when in fact you only had 100 doesn’t seem all that sophisticated, and a lot of the other items I’ve seem today fall under the same cruel category.

For me, April Fool’s Day is a matter of hunking down, logging off the internet and waiting for the storm to pass.

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