Friday, April 1, 2011

Beware: It's April Fools' Day

Consider this a public service announcement: Friday is April Fools' Day. Aspiring pranksters are scouring the Web for ideas on how to trick their friends, co-workers, and (perish the thought!) their sweet, innocent children. Over the past 24 hours, online lookups for "april fools day pranks" and "april fools day jokes" have more than doubled.
Most folks are simply seeking out lighthearted pranks. To wit, the interest in "easy april fools day pranks" far outweighs lookups for "elaborate april fools day pranks." And what could be easier than sending an April Fools' Day text. Lookups for examples of prankster text messages are up more than 50%. So, you should probably take any mysterious messages you receive tomorrow with a grain of salt.
In terms of proposed targets, co-workers seem to be the most popular marks. Web searches on "how to trick coworkers" and "best april fools day office pranks" are both surging. Mashable offers plenty of ideas, including tricking your co-workers into thinking that their computers have been equipped with speech-recognition technology. (Watch them talk to their monitors like, well, fools.) Just remember that it's not a good idea to: a) make the victim cry, and b) do anything that will get you in trouble with HR.

You should keep your wits around you when watching TV or surfing the Web. Companies like to have a little fun with the gullible public on April 1. Remember back on April 1, 1998 when Burger King announced their newest creation: The Left-Handed Whopper? Or in 1992 when NPR told its listeners that Richard Nixon was planning on running for president? Bottom line: Trust no one.
Also hugely popular--the history of the holiday. Why does everyone lie, trick, and prank one another on the first day of April? Nobody knows with absolute certainty, but the urban legend experts at speculate that the tradition started when Pope Gregory XIII introduced a new calendar that declared January 1 as the first day of the year. Previous to this, the year started on April 1.
It took a long time for the news to travel (no text-messaging back then), and people who still celebrated the new year on April 1 were called "April fools." Tricks, pranks, and jokes were apparently played on them.


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