How to Not Be a Dick on April Fool’s Day

I admit it; I love a good-natured April Fool’s Day prank. However, some jokes that may seem innocuous can actually be pretty damn hurtful. If you want to avoid truly upsetting any of your friends this year, here are a few “jokes” to avoid.

“I’m pregnant!”

This is a pretty popular joke that doesn’t seem like it could possibly hurt anyone. However, if you have friends who are struggling with infertility or miscarriages, it can seem pretty callous to treat pregnancy so lightly. And for the inevitable gullible friends who miss that it’s a joke, it can lead to future awkwardness if they run into you and wonder why you aren’t pregnant anymore.

“I’m coming out as gay/trans/etc!”

No. Coming out can be a terrifying (sometimes life-threatening) process for a hell of a lot of people, and treating their identity as something you can throw on as a joke is insulting as all hell. And if you do this and then try to tell anyone who calls you out to relax because you’re an ally? You’re doing “ally” wrong.

“I have cancer.”

Why in god’s name do people think it’s funny to pretend to have serious illnesses? Again, this is hideously insensitive to people who can’t just comment “Kidding!!” and move on with their lives.

Fake police reports.

Just, no. I seriously hope no one over the age of 17 thinks it’s funny to make bomb threats or call the police to report that their friend did something illegal, but just in case, do not do this. Especially if the target is a PoC, because the consequences could be unspeakably horrible if the wrong cop shows up to investigate.

Anything resulting in bodily harm

Do I even have to spell this out? Hurting people isn’t funny, and if you think it is, you have bigger problems than any listicle can fix. Unforeseen accidents can happen with almost any prank, but try not to do anything dangerous. If you’re going to hide and jump out at people, make sure they aren’t gonna fall down a staircase or anything (or punch you in the face).

Anything where the target will feel bullied

Seriously, know your audience before playing any pranks on specific people. If you have a friend who loves practical jokes, they’re probably a safe target. Don’t pick on people with anxiety or who hate being the butt of jokes, because they may get stressed out instead of thinking it’s funny.

Pranks at work

Be very aware of power structures before playing any jokes at work. Pranking your boss can make you look immature, while pranking underlings can make them uncomfortable if they feel like they have to play along or risk retaliation. Definitely don’t do anything that could fall under your company’s harassment policy, because that shit’s not cool.

Unsanctioned corporate pranks

Related, if you have access to your workplace’s social media accounts, be very sure that everyone’s on board before posting any jokes. I love when companies have fun with April Fool’s Day, but inevitably some jokes misfire and you don’t want to get fired for making unsanctioned posts if people get massively offended and your bosses have to scramble to save face.

Prank calling random numbers

It’s one thing to inflict jokes on your friends, but leave random strangers out of it. Most prank calls aren’t that funny anyway if you’re over the age of 11. If you don’t have any friends to prank, well, maybe think about that fact instead of pissing off people who don’t even know you.

Actual life announcements

Inevitably some people really will find out Big Life News on April 1st and will want to share ASAP. If you absolutely can’t wait another day to make your big announcement, at least put a caveat on there that it isn’t a joke. Otherwise you may risk annoying people who think you’re mocking their situation, or at the very least, you may have to repeat yourself because people will assume your news isn’t real.

At the end of the day, keep in mind your audience. If you’re the only person who laughs at your joke, it’s not very funny. The point should be to brighten up other people’s day. If not, you’re just kinda being an ass.

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[E] Hillary

Hillary is a giant nerd and former Mathlete. She once read large swaths of "Why Evolution is True" and a geology book aloud to her infant daughter, in the hopes of a) instilling a love of science in her from a very young age and b) boring her to sleep. After escaping the wilds of Waco, Texas and spending the next decade in NYC, she currently lives in upstate New York, where she misses being able to get decent pizza and Chinese takeout delivered to her house. She lost on Jeopardy.

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