NEW YORK - With life in most of the
United States grinding to a halt and the economy set to tip into
a recession or worse, Americans appear to have no appetite for
April Fools' Day this year.
By tradition, pranksters stretch the limits of believability
on April 1, creating fictitious news stories or products, often
on social media, in the hopes of tricking the gullible and
But this year, many social media users are calling for
would-be hoaxers to skip the jokes, no matter how good-natured.
"I am 110% on board with having a moratorium on April Fool's
Day this year," wrote Twitter user Mike Draco of San Francisco.
"Read the room."
Twitter on Tuesday was flooded with tweets calling for
others to set aside pranks as the world grapples with the
severity of the coronavirus outbreak.
"Just FYI, April Fool's Day is cancelled! We've experienced
enough trauma already," wrote D'Errah Scott of Baton Rouge,
Others feared that the deadly viral pandemic could become
fodder for ill-advised attempts at humor.
"Pro tip for someone thinking about making a Coronavirus
joke on April Fool's: Do not do it," tweeted Andrew Streeter of
San Antonio, Texas.
Even Google, a devoted April 1 corporate jokester for more
than a decade, has pledged to skip this year's gag, in part to
live up to its vow to provide accurate information about
COVID-19 as the illness tightens its fatal grip on the country.
Google told its employees it would hold off on the fun until
2021, according to an internal memo to company managers first
reported by Business Insider.
"Make sure your teams pause on any jokes they may have
planned - internally or externally," the memo was quoted as
"Our highest goal right now is to be helpful to people, so
let's save the jokes for next April, which will undoubtedly be a
whole lot brighter than this one," the memo said, according to
Mental health professionals agree that humor is essential
for maintaining perspective and hope during a crisis, but they
suggest a kinder, gentler form of wit than the typical April 1
"Do the opposite on April Fools' Day and be good to each
other and calming rather than goofing on each other," said
psychologist Randy Kamen, who treats patients in New York and in
Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts.
"We are fragile right now. To be giving each other
misinformation and 'I was just kidding,' we already don't know
what to believe. It's like every day is April Fools' Day, so why
add to the out-of-control situation?" she said.
Ross Polly, a software developer from Waukee, Iowa, said he
would refrain from his usual April Fools' Day activities, which
typically involve interacting with online "joke" news posts, as
well as in-person pranks.
"Who are you going to prank? The people you're going to be
stuck in social isolation with the next few weeks or months? Not
a time to make enemies," Polly told Reuters.