7 April, 2010
Another April Fool's has come and gone. It's perhaps one of the more important holidays in the year, and not just because I like playing tricks on people.
It's what the tricks are intended to do.
Sadly, April Fool's tends to look more like amateur hour as Lum puts it so well. People are too eager to just try to do something that seems funny without really understanding the reason.
Of course, I did the same thing once. My parents enjoyed a morning of peanut butter smeared on the door knob. Once. (I was so proud about how I had done the work without waking them up, too....)
But, if you look at mythology you see the trickster has a much greater role than just putting (metaphorical) egg on someone's face. The role of the trickster was to teach and train. Not that all tricksters were noble (one of Loki's pranks did end up killing Baldr), but often the tricks are intended to show some flaw.
Perhaps the best example are the wish-granters of mythology. Leprechauns and djinn are supposed to take great pleasure in twisting the wishes of their victims. The lesson here is the oft repeated phrase, "Careful what you wish for."
One problem is that a lot of people today hate feeling tricked. Instead of being good-natured about it, they lash out at being fooled. It's easy to blame the fooler instead of taking a long, hard look at yourself to see why your reaction was out of bounds.
The one joke that Scott did like from this year, Wow's epeen measurement fits this perfectly. It shows how people love bragging about big numbers and how powerful they are, when it's just self-stroking gratification for a lot of people. Looks a bit foolish to many people for a developer to support this, so it's a good opportunity to poke fun at it.
My April Fool's joke for this year of course touched upon the whole "social games" issue. I cast Zynga into a mustache-twirling caricature in trying to buy out my site in order to kill MMOs. This is an extreme statement of what some people have claimed. Seems a bit silly when it's put in those terms, but perhaps a bit of silliness is what we needed. A bit of self-depreciation also works to keep things in perspective.
What do you think? Is the Trickster aspect still important? Or are those stupid jokes just too much to bear even for a good cause? Or, should more people take the time for a bit of introspection?