April Fools’ Day Isn’t as Good as It Used to Be

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It used to be so much fun to hear the exclamation: “April Fools!” When I was a little kid, April Fools’ Day was always exciting. I never was a big prankster — I think the biggest “prank” I’ve ever pulled off in my life was lightly shaking a soda can before handing it to someone — but the idea that I could play tricks on someone and it would be socially acceptable for a span of 24 hours was enticing. That, combined with the thrill of having to be vigilant for being pranked (carefully parsing through what people said to detect a possible lie or inspecting anything that was given to me for some way that it could get me) was a fun time. But now when I think of April Fools’ Day, it’s more of a “meh” or a “blech” feeling.

April Fools makes social media annoying for a day. If you’re on YouTube, you get flooded with videos of people pulling pranks in public or on their loved ones, and they’re not very entertaining. Some of them even verge on mean. I mean, what’s the fun in “pranking” your significant other by pretending to be seriously injured or lying to them that someone important in their life died? And besides the prank videos, you get those annoying videos that are themselves pranks. Like, oh wow, I’ve never seen someone say that they have something cool to show off and then cut to a black screen for the rest of the video. Real original. Occasionally you get fun things with high-effort jokes or satirical articles, and with the proliferation of AI-generated images, I am expecting some more fun to come out of that. But the overall experience is just pointless frustration.

And now that I have more serious things to do in a day than I did when I was in elementary school, having to spend one day second-guessing everything I see and hear in each social interaction feels even more grating. I’m sure quite a few of us saw the note that was on the door to Cornell Library last week saying it was going to be closed on April 1. I hope I wasn’t the only person who did a double-take when I saw that. I had a little internal debate with myself for a couple of minutes when I saw the sign. Will Cornell actually be closed Saturday? If so, why close it on the one day of the year when there is the highest chance people won’t believe it? If not, who would say so as a prank? The librarians? Probably not since they all seem to be in favor of people using the libraries. Random students? I’m sure the librarians wouldn’t let a note like that hang on the door if it was fake, and they would be annoyed at anyone who did it. But on Friday, March 31, we all received an email from the STEM librarian Andrea Baruzzi saying that Cornell Library would definitely be closed the following day (it was, I checked). While this incident is only one anecdote, I think it is a microcosm of the slight annoyance everyone feels throughout this one day we’ve collectively agreed is the most appropriate time frame for pranks.

Ultimately, I am torn: while I find April Fools’ Day a bit of a pain today, I still have those pleasant memories of an April Fools’ Day now long past. Maybe it should be relegated to one of those holiday traditions only children are expected to participate in, like giving each other those little Valentine’s Day candies as a class. At any rate, by the time you get to college, and especially by the time you’re out of school, I think we can all agree that it should be a thing of the past.

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