Most people have encountered some sort of prank within their lifetime, but the line between a harmful prank and a fun joke can be difficult to navigate on April Fools’ Day.
Many students at the university are looking forward to April Fools’ Day. Shawn Street is a sophomore business administration major who enjoys sending YouTube pranks to his friends, but he also recognizes that some pranks can be harmful.
“It depends on the person you’re doing it to,” Street said. “If you’re doing a jump scare with flashing lights and the person is epileptic, that’s not cool.”
An epileptic individual suffering from a seizure is one of the many ways a prank could backfire. Microsoft released an internal memo, according to the Verge, declaring it will not be participating in April Fools’ Day this year. In light of other companies’ pranks backfiring, Microsoft determined it was not worth the effort. YouTube also updated its user policies, banning harmful or dangerous pranks from its platform in January.
Despite a few exceptions, the majority of major media platforms encourage or even actively participate in April Fools’ Day pranks. Google has consistently participated in pranks for the past decade, such as in 2016 where they added Minion gifs to all user emails. However, people who do not celebrate the holiday may find it difficult to avoid some form of prank on April Fools’ Day.
If this is a challenge, it is important to identify which pranks are enjoyable, and which ones could potentially cause harm. In Google’s email prank, the comical gifs were inadvertently added to serious emails, leading Google to publicly apologize for the harm the prank caused. This evaluation of harm versus benefit changes on a case by case basis. The opinions expressed by the student body of UAA vary greatly on the topic of pranks.
Selene Stoll is a student with an associate’s degree in art and currently majoring in digital arts and illustration. Stoll actively participates in April Fools’ Day with her children and considers it a learning experience for them, but she believes jump scares are lazy and harmless jokes are much funnier.
“The difference between a good joke and a bad joke is who is laughing,” Stoll said. “If I cause harm to another person, and I know beforehand they would not be OK with that, that would be considered a bad prank, because only one person is laughing.”
Jiamang Xue is a finance major, and she doesn’t celebrate April Fools’ Day. Xue has not experienced many pranks before but does recall some jump scares.
“I don’t like [jump scares] at all,” Xue said. “They may be fun to some people, but not to me.”
Adam Abdallah is a psychology major studying human behavior. He considers pranking to be good human behavior when done correctly and looks forward to April Fools’ Day.
“It’s a fun day to play some pranks on your friends, but don’t take it too far,” Abdallah said. “It’s only a prank if everyone is laughing. I would say that something that is annoying can still be funny, but something that is offensive or insulting does not have potential to be funny.”
While many students have different beliefs about April Fools’ Day, there is at least one consensus: be considerate when pranking others. Whether participating, pranking or observing, a prank gone wrong can ruin anyone’s day.