Monday, April 04, 2011

Whatever happened to April Fools Day?

I enjoy a good laugh or tasteful prank. Every first of April, since childhood, I've kept vigilant for the media's shenanigans and- even funnier- the gullible outrage of the public. One of my favourites as a kid was when our local Star newspaper reported that the government was about to expropriate houses in our area to make way for a subway system (you should have heard the indignant calls to local radio stations). Just as hilarious was the time a radio station bluffed that a tug was pulling an iceberg up the east coast of Africa. People phoned in to say that they could see the floating 'berg from their windows!

This year I was stymied. Sifting through the news, I encountered some outright prank stories (like Groupon buying the rights to the name "April Fools Day") and a few that could have been true (like "Richard Branson buys Pluto" or "The Guardian to set up a live Royal Wedding blog" or "Gmail's  Gmotion will allow you to send emails using only gestures"). And there were those stories that sounded like they should have been hoaxes, but were sadly true ("Massachusetts letter arrives 66 years too late" and, worst of all "South African crime intelligence boss arrested on murder charges").

Years ago, an outrageous news-claim would more easily have stood out as a hoax. Today, with news stories like "14-year old rape victim flogged to death" it's become tricky to discern what's for real. April Fools seems to have become the standard. Ours is a world gone mad, where wild statements are normal and people finger the Voice of Reason as unbalanced. It's Aprils Fools' world. 

In the fools' world morality is unpopular and depravity celebrated. It's the meshugah place where a family murdered in their sleep goes unnoticed by a world preoccupied with the drunken rants of an overpaid actor.

You need courage to live in this crazy world. Courage enough to know you are still sane when the lunatics call you crazy. 

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