How to Survive April Fools’ Day (Without Feeling Gullible or Dumb)

So, turns out it’s almost April.  While this is worrying in the “How is a quarter of the year gone and I didn’t even notice?” sense, it’s more worrying in the “If I don’t pay attention, I’m totally going to forget about April Fools’ Day” sense.  I am the person who every year, without fail, logs into Gmail on April 1 and goes, “Ooh, what a cool new feature!” and reads the entire way through an article describing some new technology I get really excited about and don’t realize that it is, in fact, just an April Fools’ prank.  (Seriously, that custom-time feature on Gmail sounded awesome until I realized it was a hoax.)  Whether it’s something on the Internet, your practical joke-minded coworkers or your devious friends, it’s easy to fall prey to April Foolery.  Here are some tips for avoiding it if you’ve been burned in the past:

Set a reminder on your calendar.  Are you one of the people who doesn’t remember the date unless you have to actually write it on something?  Then set up some sort of automatic reminder to point out to you that it is in face April 1, and you need to put your game face on.

In the words of two very smart (and deeply paranoid) men, “Constant vigilance” and “Trust no one.”  Mad Eye Moody and Fox Mulder should be your go-to advice givers for getting through April Fools’ day unscathed.  These are going to be your key phrases for the day.  Never let your guard down, and do not believe anything anyone says.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  Your favorite store isn’t having a 90% off sale, they aren’t giving away free ice cream in the cafeteria, and *NSYNC hasn’t decided to do a reunion tour.  If whatever you’ve heard is on the level of awesome of these things, it’s probably an April Fools’ joke.

Maybe just stay off the internet entirely.  Seriously, there is nowhere easier to make fake stuff look believable on the internet.  I think on any given day you can probably only assume about half of the stuff on the internet is true, and on April Fools’ day you should probably just play it safe and not believe anything.  No, you cannot use to book a room in Middle Earth, and no, Youtube will not be giving a prize for the best video ever uploaded, so put away your credit card and stop searching your phone for that funny video you took that time.

Fight fire with fire.  The best defense is a good offense.  The best way to stay ahead of this holiday is to have a good April Fools’ Day joke in your back pocket.  I’m not going to be much help here, because no one ever falls for mine.  The keys, I think, are to make it something rooted in truth/plausibility, slip it casually into the conversation, and if you’re a terrible actor, as I certainly am, maybe play your joke out via email or text so you can’t start giggling and give it away, as I am wont to do.

Just enjoy it.  The thing is, April Fools’ Day wouldn’t be any fun if no one fell for the jokes.  If you’re the person that totally falls for one, then congratulations, you’re a vital part of this holiday!  It’s all in good fun, so there’s no reason to feel, well, foolish.

Image via Shutterstock

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