Thursday, November 25, 2021

FEATURE: April fools: A permissive day for peddling falsehood?

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It was about noon on Apri 1, 2014. A colleague met his friend and obliged to have a visit to a garden in Abuja and discuss some critical professional issues as it was called by one of them who initiated the meeting; conscious of the date.

After a while in the garden, his friend said: “I call you here to inform you that you must not go home today.

“Local hunters in your locality have announced that a lion has strayed into the community you live and every community member is staying indoor. So, call your family members in the community and inform them’’.

His friend believed it because it had happened in his home-town communities previously.

He allowed his friend to place a call through to his wife before he said “April fool’’.

“Isn’t this too expense a joke?”His friend asked.

They laughed it off after all; and they had some bottles of frothing lager.

However, the prank had done the damage of frightening his friend’s family members and others who might have been contacted immediately by the wife, although his friend had to call back and tell them it was April Fools ’ Day prank.

So it is with the enthusiasts of April Fools’ Day when pranks and hoaxes such as this is prominent.

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It is a day that seems like the god of lying descends on liars to display expertise and even infecting others with the temptation to tell lies for the purpose of the day.

Involving practical jokes and hoaxes, it comes every April 1 somewhat unannounced. This, perhaps, gives reason why the captivated public listens and believes fairytales until they are told it is April Fools’ Day.

Because the day is not preceded by advocacy for its triviality as it is in the case of Valentine and other observances, enthusiasts of the day take the advantage to lure the unsuspecting public to believing whatever is fabricated to fascinate them.

Expensive pranks, fictitious narratives, flattery and lies, among others, aimed at stimulating hearers’ emotions, have become the order of the day.

The deception involved in the observance of the day which is expected not to last into few hours of the day is purposeful, dwelling on the absurd and unusual events in the society.

In climes such as UK, all pranks and jokes accompanying the day are expected to end at noon and there are some differences and variations in the observance of the day across the world.

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Some segment of the public believe that April fool was preceded by an event in which France changed its calendar to the modern Gregorian version in 16th century by which January 1 is observed as the beginning of a new year instead of the last week of March, being the tradition then.

Some people opposed the new calendar and chose to continue celebrating theirs on the end of the New Year on April 1 and those that chose to stick to the old calendar were referred to as fools.

So, on every April 1, the observance is focusing on testing how gullible some segments of the public can be; reacting to fabricated lies just for the fun of it.

Brazil captures the observance of the day succinctly; referring to it as Dia da Mentira –Lie Day — in which people try to fool friends for joke and to create fun.

Irrespective of insignificance of the observance, psychologists note that April fools’ moments can provide good health by creating a relaxed atmosphere to relieve stress through jokes, hoaxes and pranks, among others.

But critics say April fools’ jokes could be nasty, deceitful and misleading and generate confusion and panic, especially when the victims of the jokes take the falsehood or pranks seriously.

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They observe that in some cases, people die, get injury and heart attacks, among other development as a result of lies accompanying expensive pranks arising from April fools’ observance.

Wale Olorunda, a resident of Abuja says he nearly had accident in his car when a friend he was travelling with on an April Fools’ Day announced that someone close to both of them was in coma in a hospital.

He says “the prank creates a lot of panic before I realise it was April fool as announced later by this friend’’.

A resident of Abuja, Paulin Abutu, says “April Fools’ observance is just a creation of an event to expose the capacity of the public in doing exploits in mischief-making and create oddity when the occasion presents the opportunity’’.

A student in a tertiary institution in Abuja, Lilian Ogwuche, believes that April Fools ’ Day is entertaining, engaging and hilarious that should be expected to last longer than noon on the day.

According to her, people should not, however, engage in expensive pranks that can cause panic or create “instant blood pressure for the victims of the pranks”.

NAN Features

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