April fool’s: When is it too far


Mariam Kaakarli


With April Fool’s right around the corner, people across the country are preparing for a day filled with practical jokes and hoaxes. The first of April is supposed to represent a day full of humor and harmless fun, but has somehow grown into a 24-hour-battlefield where no one is to be trusted. Although some enjoy the playful stress and trauma provided by Fool’s Day, often times there are unintended consequences that come from a misinformed prankster.

For instance, tricking your significant other into thinking you are breaking up could easily pull you into a hole of unnecessary trouble, and hurt people you care about. Other serious offenses caused by ignorant jokesters can lead to legal issues, an example would be in the work place. Imagine your boss promoting you to the job of your dreams, only for you to find out the next day that you’ve been lied to. It won’t be so funny to you when you have to explain to all your friends that you didn’t get the promotion, or to your boss, whom I’d assume you’d be suing.

Not all pranks are as obvious when it comes to deciphering how unethical or dangerous it can be. “Screamers”- a type flash program that often involve sudden loud noises and rapid, blinking images to scare the oblivious viewer, are becoming more and more common on the internet. Screamers might seem innocent enough, only appearing to cause a brief moment of adrenaline to the intended target. But when sent to a large enough group of people, a sufferer from epilepsy might come across the “joke”. This can trigger an epileptic seizure that could be deadly.

I think most people would agree that when it comes to April Fool’s, there are limits that shouldn’t be crossed. In order for everyone to be safe, and no serious consequences to be brought up, there needs to be a set of ground rules to follow. That’s why I have compiled a checklist for you to consider while preparing for April First:

Does your prank offer the possibility of affecting any innocent third party members?

Even if it the possibility doesn’t seem high to you, any chance of affecting bystanders, it can lead to unwanted tension  between you; your target; and the unfortunate third party recipient.

Does your prank involve people in your professional life who rely on you to be dependable?

In other words, are you abusing your position as an authority figure in your work life? If you answered yes, then you might want to reconsider choosing a less intense method of tricking your employees.

Does your prank provide unwanted and unappreciated stress or humiliation of any sort?

If that is the case, then do not wake up April First thinking you can get away with that type of joke. It is harassment, and can easily be taken the wrong way by your target.

Does your prank have the potential to cause anyone physical or medical damage?

Just as explained previously, it can be tough seeing how your prank can lead to medical problems. Just remember that it is not worth the risk to possibly cause someone physical harm over a silly April Fool’s joke.

Does your prank involve a non-consenting target?

This one might seem obvious, but it is always a good reminder to evaluate the relationship between you and your target. If they have ever seemed impatient towards practical jokes in the past, please do not attempt to pull them into your prank. Not everyone is going to feel the same way about things as you. To you, your joke might seem lighthearted and funny, but to others, it might cause discomfort.

If you do decide to participate in April Fool’s festivities, then have a run through the previous checklist to make sure you aren’t preparing for pranks that might be too serious. If you’ve come to realize that your joke might be a bit too problematic, the don’t fret. Keep brainstorming until you come up with the perfect prank that won’t cause any significant damage. Have a fun and safe April Fool’s!