I've just emerged from a pretty heated argument. You heard about faceraping? Maybe you've been faceraped? It's when someone hijacks your Facebook profile and makes a small change to it. Could be a status update, a name change or (one of my favourites) changing the birthday. It usually results in a horde of people laughing and/or getting confused.
It's not appreciated by everyone. That's understandable, and it's definitely something a prankster must take into account. It's never okay to hurt another person. For a prank to be at its best it must border on the ridiculous, but still - on some level - possibly be true.
But Linus! is the concern we had today, how can you toy with people like this? They might take offense! Yes, they do, sometimes. When that happens it's a hugely failed prank. It all usually boils down to one main fear:
Someone might not understand that it's a joke, and I'll look like a fool. This'll lead to people hating me/me not getting the job/another horrible situation because of the misunderstanding.
But I still honestly believe pranking is an awesome thing - especially for the person getting pranked. Hard to follow? I understand that, especially now.
There's the obvious reason that the world would be insanely dull and stiff if we couldn't joke with each other every now and then, but there's actually an even better answer than that. Humanity. We are human, and showing it is a great way to make others like you better.
I'm going to simplify the world slightly to better convey what I mean. Here's the thing: our society is loosening up. For the first time in a long while, people are allowed to - have to, really - be themselves. David writes about himself on social networks. He shows where he is by using location services. I notice this, and likes or comments that Dave just had a fantastic lunch. It feels like I get a sneak peak into his life. I get closer to him by knowing what he does. It helps me understand him.
And I know that he isn't perfect, because I'm not. If David does something wrong, realizes and apologizes, I probably like him better for it. Hey, Dave is a swell guy! At least he admits it when he is wrong, and I really like the other stuff he does.
That's crisis management 101 for you. Admit that you're wrong and do everything you can to rectify it as quickly as possible, and you've saved a lot of your precious behind. We dislike BP for the oil spill, but we hate them for being nonchalant about it.
The same thing goes for pranking. Get pranked, and you actually show me you're a human being. You have relationships with people, real friends and family, and I get to be a distant part of that. And I like you better when you have friends - that means you're like me and not a soulless robot.
There are those who prefer to control their appearance, and they have the right to try and do so. You probably shouldn't prank with these people an awful lot, chances are they wouldn't like it. But regardless if they want it to happen or not, more and more information about them and me is becoming available to everyone else. This means we'll have fewer 'perfect' humans in the future, and more humans. Maybe that makes us all perfect?
At a short seminar I was at recently Joakim Jardenberg discussed WikiLeaks and the consequences whistleblowing has for companies. He meant that this is happening more and more, and there's not much to do about it but adapt. He meant that organizations must be honest and do good shit. I prefer be human and do awesome stuff, but it's the same thing. And it's not just applicable to organizations - it's applicable to individuals as well.
So my point is this: the fear that someone might misunderstand and hate you is extremely small compared to the chance that we'll have a good time and that people will like you more. And I think it's totally worth taking that chance - it's part of becoming awesome.
I totally failed to convey this point in the discussion, by the way. There's a lot you have to take into account when talking to someone. Our main mistake was that we both broke the number one rule I have in discussions: Don't try to argue that you're right, but ask questions to understand the other person. In the end he got mad while I got sad. Crappy, but the best we can do is to learn from it and become friends again tomorrow.