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Friday, 2 April 2010

Fooled Again?

As i'm sure you're already aware. Yesterday was April Fools Day.
In fact the reason you remember it is, maybe, because you got caught out by one of the many pranks pulled by people? And if you were caught out, maybe you were a little annoyed about this?

I did actually get caught out myself, by a friend of mine as it happens. This didn't annoy me. Maybe because of the nature of the prank. But, it may well have done so if i had got caught out by somebody else.

I have to confess that i'm not a big fan of April Fools Day. What i dislike about it, is that you have to go around all day being very sceptical about everything you read, hear, or listen to. You just can't trust anything.
I know that some people quite enjoy trying to spot the fake stories in the many forms of media throughout the day. And i know that this only happens for one day every year. But, for me at least, it's a source of great irritation.

These days, every media outlet, including advertisers, feels the need to try and fool their customres. Even supposedly respectable broadcasters and newspapers get in on the act and also go to some pretty extreme lenghts to try and make their efforts appear plausible.
Why on earth is this and when did it start?
According to Wikipedia, the first recorded example of a prank of this kind, was in Chaucers "Canterbury Tales", way back in the 13th century! Even i didn't expect the "tradition" to go back quite that far back.
Having said that, it isn't really until the 20th century that the April Fools pramk takes off, especially in the media.
I vivdly remember, back in my school days, having to be very careful on April 1st. But, i don't think the media really got into all of this until a little later.
There was a famous example (here in the UK) of a well respected national news programme fooling pretty much the whole nation, when they did a feature about the "spaghetti harvest" in Italy. That was back in 1957. But, that was very much the exception, rather than the rule. Nowadays everybody is at it. One of the reasons that the 1957 example worked so well, was that it was totally unexpected.
Now, we all have to be on the look out for all those prank stories, or adverts.

So, why do i find all of this an irritation?
Well, for one thing, i don't like feeling that i have to be suspicious of everybody & everything. Even if it is for one day.
Also, i am an avid consumer of news. Both on tv, radio & in the (news)papers.  I dislike having to go through the process of weighing up every news item to try & decide if it's true, or not.
This can often lead to you dismissing a "real" news story as a fake. If you wanted to take this argument ot it's limit. You could argue that any fake story could actually be dangerous. Yes, i know that would never be the intention. But, it is possible. Just look at the panic caused by Orson Welles radio version of "War of the worlds" to see what could potentially happen.
I know we all think that we're more sensible than that these days. But, a similar example happened in Eastern Europe recently, when it was falsely reported that Russian tanks had invaded the country of Georgia.
What is fun for some, could end up being deadly serious for others.

Or, maybe i'm just being foolish?


  1. Well, as far as "going around all day being very skeptical about everything..." - that's probably good advice for every day, these days...

  2. Good point & good advice too.