Internet trends metamorphosize from inspired to completely worn out in a matter of days, if not sooner. It’s an organic process: a tree falls in the internet forest, and the rest of the internet rushes to report on that tree, then to remix that tree with Christian Bale ranting in Autotune, then start a tree meme (treeme) and squeeze every possible molecule of pleasure and enjoyment out of that tree before dispassionately moving on to the next inevitable item, leaving behind a wrung-out carcass of some thing we’re not sure we ever actually enjoyed so much as desperately and mechanically clung to for a day.
April Fool’s Day, on the other hand, is basically one of these trends, only it’s been beaten into the ground over a matter of years, not hours, and continues to exist solely by virtue of its distinction as a half-assed holiday. April Fool’s on the internet may have been a genuinely inspired phenomenon at one point — back when some boss sent an “Important Meeting!” email that turned out to be the Super Friends yelling “waaazaaaap!!!!” — but the ‘pranks’ now are so formulaic and obligatory, there’s simply nothing interesting about them anymore, especially for an internet that’s discarding used-up trends on an hourly basis.
April Fool’s Day on the internet is basically just April Do Kind Of Whimsical Thing That Everyone Knows Is A Joke And Let’s Get On With Our Internet Lives Day. If it were any other trend, the internet would’ve organically abandoned it years ago; instead, people know there’s a general expectation for April Fool’s content, so they force wacky, frivolous things into a landscape that already creates infinite wacky, frivolous things every minute of every day.
Take, for example, Google’s “Helvetica” prank today. Go ahead and Google Helvetica, if you haven’t already. This happens:
It turns into Comic Sans! APRIL FOOLSDED!!!!!
Google does multiple April Fool’s pranks every year. Everyone knows this, and everyone anticipates this, so how are they in any way “pranks”? They’re just slightly whimsical things on a day.
The only people in the world who are going to be Googling “Helvetica” today are people who heard of this prank virally and are deliberately doing it to see what happens. Which is fine, sure, but it’s not a prank – unless there’s one dude over in New Mexico who woke up this morning really wanting to know what Helvetica is so he Googled it and everything turned into Comic Sans font and he was like “guess that’s what it is, I will remember that in my life from now on” and went on believing that, and if that’s the case, then you nailed it, Google!
For the rest of us, why should we pretend to make a big deal out of these lame, super-light jokey things just because it’s a fake holiday with “Fool” in the title, when the internet is already f***ing INSANE on a daily basis? Doing an obligatory, predictable wacky thing online and calling it a prank is a completely pointless and repetitive endeavor that we as a collective internet should stop endorsing as though it’s a necessary or even noteworthy occurrence. We all know it’s coming, then it happens, then we’re like “Yep.” If anything, it’s usually less wacky than the internet on a standard day, because at least there’s a defensible reason for the deliberate absurdity.
To put it another way, April Fool’s Day on the internet is f*cking stupid.
No seriously, it’s f*cking stupid.