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Covid-19 pandemic takes the fun out of April Fools' this year

Published Apr 1, 2020

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NEW YORK - With life in most of the

United States grinding to a halt and the economy set to tip into

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a recession or worse, Americans appear to have no appetite for

April Fools' Day this year.

By tradition, pranksters stretch the limits of believability

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on April 1, creating fictitious news stories or products, often

on social media, in the hopes of tricking the gullible and

generating laughs.

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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

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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,

Louisiana.

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

saying.

"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

the report.

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

hoax.

"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. 

Reuters

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