Is There Such a Thing as a Nice Prank?

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Short answer: No

Pranks May Not Necessarily Be Bad, But They Are Not Nice

April Fools is the day for pranks, but let's be real here, pranks are not nice. Does that necessarily make them bad? Well, that's highly up for debate. In my opinion, pranks are just one step away from being a jerk and possibly a bully if the same person is pranked repeatedly.

Hansen O'Haver wrote a post on Vice why Pranks Are Bad and she sums it up pretty well:
There's a pretty simple way to tell if a joke is offensive: If the punchline is the victim, the joke is probably bad. Pranks take this one step further. They not only laugh at the victim, pranks create a victim for the sole purpose of laughing at them. If that's your idea of a good time, maybe you're the April Fool.

When I originally posted this on Facebook for family and friends last year, I learned that many family members actually didn't mind being pranked, so I guess if you truly know the person you are pranking it might be okay, HOWEVER, that does not make it "nice."

According to Oxford, "nice" is defined as: "Pleasant; agreeable; satisfactory."

I fail to see see how covering someone's stapler in jello is "nice," or how tricking someone into eating an onion that looks like an apple is "nice." To me, these are unkind acts. "Unkind" is defined by Oxford as "inconsiderate and harsh to others."

Now maybe if you somehow know your friend is okay with a prank it could be considered "considerate," and the best way to know is to ask! However, that kind of takes away from the point of a prank and I think the chances of someone saying "Yes" to being pranked are pretty slim. Even though I had pretty persistent family members saying they were okay with pranks, I am skeptical that if asked "is it okay if I depants you in public?" many of them would say yes.

Plus even if someone is okay with pranks, I am sure they have their own idea of what is okay and not okay, so just because they say yes, does not mean they will be okay with whatever prank you choose to do. In the end, the safer option I think is just to avoid pranks altogether and find a different way to humor yourself that does not involve hurting or humiliating someone else.

Pranks Are Not Consensual

I think it is also important to note that a prank negates consent unless, as I stated above, you ask beforehand, but then I do not think one would consider it a prank. 

This is important as consent is not just about sex. We all deserve to be in control of our bodies and what is done to our bodies, and yes, pranks do violate this. For example, this guy dyed his girlfriend's skin blue and got a lot of backlash for it. 

Now many in this case agreed that he went too far, but everyone's threshold is different and in the end, you can't possibly know what someone is or isn't okay with without asking. 

My Personal Experience Being Pranked

Maybe I'm a sour apple, but I still remember being pranked in elementary school and it still hurts to this day. I'm not friends with any of those girls anymore (probably a good thing), but that one act left a lasting impression on me and caused me to be more anxious about sleepovers.

I was at a friend's house for a sleepover. Some of us decided to sleep, and others stayed up and watched videos in another room. The girls who stayed up thought it would be funny to hang a pair of underwear on the ceiling. Guess whose underwear it was? Yup. It was mine.

I was one of the few to wake up and see it. Someone asked whose it was, but the girls who did it didn't tell and went back to watching videos on a computer in another room.

I waited till the other girls went back to sleep. I just had a sinking feeling it was mine, and, of course, it was. I took it off the ceiling, rolled it up, and shoved it in my pillowcase.

I later found handwritten notes in the bathroom that some of the girls were passing back and forth. They had purposely tried to figure out which bag was mine. I was singled out of all the girls at that sleepover and it hurt. These were people I thought were my friends.

It was kind of a bad prank as no one even seemed to notice the underwear had disappeared and it was easily forgotten by everyone, but, of course, me as I still remember that moment to this day.

That's the problem with pranks, they are usually only funny to the people who are doing them. The person who is the butt of the joke often does not share in their laughter, and even if they do, it's most likely because they don't want their friends to think of them as a poor sport.

What About Surprises?

When talking to my husband about if there was such a thing as a "nice prank," we came up with "surprises," like a surprise birthday party, or when someone surprises you with a bouquet of flowers. Like pranks, these are unexpected acts, but instead of having unkind results, these are actually nice gestures.

Also, remember that some people don't like surprises in general, so while your surprise party might be a nice gesture, it could really upset or trigger someone who does not like being surprised, no matter how good your intentions are.

In my search for "kind pranks," I came across this article on Sherrie's Berries, titled 13 Nice Pranks, where it lists a prank or trick like:
Cover their bedroom door, their car or their desk at work with multicolored Post-it® notes.
And then adds a "treat" to go with the trick:
Depending on who you’re pranking, write short and sweet love notes or kind thoughts on every note.
So in a way, a surprise could be considered a "nice prank."

Instead of pranks this April Fool's, I highly encourage you to consider skipping the holiday altogether, or instead, give someone a sweet surprise. Trust me, they will more likely appreciate the surprise way than they would the prank.