The bar for great April Fool’s pranks is high, but it can take nearly no effort to get there.
NPR proved that point back in 2014 by posting an April Fool’s Day article with absolutely no content, just the incendiary headline: “Why Doesn’t America Read Anymore?”
It was sham of an article created to show that people will fire back with outraged comments without having read an article, and, indeed, they did. This year was no different. NPR re-shared the same post with the same headline, and readers still trolled without reading.
Facebook comments on the article-less article ranged from excuses for not reading, to laments about the human condition:
“Speak for yourself. My husband, myself, family, friends, read books all. the. time.”
“Tens of millions of Americans have a computer in their pocket more powerful than a desktop computer from the 90’s. What do we do with them ? Take pictures and play video games. It’s the human condition.”
“Not surprising. It’s simultaneously a terrible and incredible time to be a writer. On the one hand, if your shit is sellable (and everything is to someone) it could be in the hands of royalty across the planet tomorrow. On the other hand, no one really reads things anymore.”
“There’s no time to read when you are watching all that reality tv and biased ‘news’ shows. News isn’t supposed to be a ‘show’. It is just supposed to be news. That doesn’t exist anymore.”
Some commenters took the opportunity to make entirely unrelated comments, as one does:
“Once again, NPR shows its pro-Clinton bias. #Bern.”
“Republicans & Religion don’t endorse it.”
And, as always, a few took it badly:
“NPR thinks the butt of this April Fools’ joke is the person who just responds to the headline. But headlines are meant to elicit just that, a response. The unintended and valid target of this joke is NPR’s own clickbait headlines. NPR: You were better than “Sandwich Mondays” and you’re better than clickbait. Cut it out.”
“Well played, NPR… in 2014.”