Treat Every Day Like April Fools Day

Today is April Fools Day. I have affectionately referred to this day as “Nerd Christmas” for years. People and corporations alike come together on this one day to make us smile in an extremely dorky wink-and-a-nod display.

It used to be a delightful day on the internet. But all of the cutesy fake products and pretend web services have faded away to people fibbing about pregnancy or getting married and passing around fake news and lies. And really, this is the kind of stuff people do online (mostly on Facebook) everyday. It’s just that on April Fools were a little more “on the swivel” than usual, ready with a critical eye.

So on this April Fools I want to make a plea to you.

Treat every day like it’s April Fools.

Use critical thinking skills anytime you see a story or post that just doesn’t smell right. Free iPad? Probably a scam. $50 free at Target? Likely not. Like a photo of someone’s lotto numbers and you’ll get a cut if they win? Can’t imagine a more unlikely scenario.

I will say, I am fully aware that makes me THAT GUY on Facebook. Often I’ve found myself busting into someone’s Facebook thread and saying, “Sorry to interrupt, I just wanted you to know this isn’t true.” And then generally I link to Snopes.

Snopes is hands down my favorite truth telling website. http://www.snopes.com/

It takes news, myths, and rumors and lets you know if it’s true, false, or mixture of the two. It is my go to for when I want to rain on someone’s parade. Which… I don’t want to be THAT GUY. But the amount of misinformation roaming around on the internet is staggering. And people just look at the title of a story and move on. No considering of the source, no checking up on the facts. And it isn’t just limited to clickbait-y websites with a ton of ads. People have a hard time because this is everywhere.

I know it’s work. No one wants to spend their time googling. But I would argue that it is now more important than ever to make an effort to verify information. Especially as we move deeper into this political season. Fake news looks like real news. Hell, sometimes it is reported by real news. How often have you seen stories from The Onion paraded around like they’re real?

Snopes. Politifact. FactCheck. Treat everyday like it’s April Fools Day.

(But seriously, congrats to my friend Stephanie who actually got married today. No kidding around!)

Minions: New Voice of The Internet?

Minions are everywhere. Surely, you’ve seen them. The adorable gibberish speaking monsters? creatures? aliens? things? from the Despicable Me movies. They’ve taken over movie theaters, McDonalds… and our HEARTS? To say that the public is obsessed about these little things is a huge understatement. But I must be honest. A couple weeks ago, I had no idea what they were. It wasn’t on my radar.

Then I started seeing things like this on Facebook:

minionblock

What the what? I was confused. I knew they were from a movie but not much else. I investigated and asked friends about it. “They’re so cute!” “They’re hilarious.” “They’re the best!” “What do you mean you’ve never watched the movies?!” Some weekend media binging later, my husband and I were caught up. We even went and watched the new movie. They are cute and hilarious.

But… how did they become the voice of the internet?

I mean, I understand how they came to meme status. (Quick explaination of memes: when the internet makes something like an inside joke, often using pictures and text, it’s called a meme.) Minions share a lot with the fabled LOLcats of years ago. They’re cute and loveable in the eyes of most people. They have no color or creed or affiliation. They don’t speak any specific language, so you can project whatever you want on them. They are anything to everyone.

towleycomp

Except for some crucial differences… Minions are a symbol of friendship. They are friendly creatures. Cats are aloof loners who would gladly stab you to pieces and burn down your house, if they had the thumbs to do it. They “cannot haz friends”. Minions do, which is why the memes above all have a friendly tone. (Except that one that one caters to the mischievous crowd. But you know the comments on that one were all, “OH TAG CHERYL! THIS IS SO YOU”.) Minions are also LIKE people. Being humanesque makes it easy to project ourselves onto them.

And finally: they’re well known and (because of how popular children’s characters work) they’ll probably be around forever. Before, when Grandma would see something on Facebook like a LOLcat, she’d be confused. “Why is that cat talking in broken English about a hamburger?” But as soon as someone posted this to her Facebook wall:

miniongramps

All of a sudden, Nan is like, “aww Abigail was just showing me this on the TV!!!!!! IT IS WONDERFUL THANKS FOR SHARING KISSES XOXOXO NAN PS SORRY ABOUT THE CAPS I CAN’T TURN THEM OFF”

So the Minions are your mom’s LOLcats.

I will say, though, that I’ve seen some odd spinoffs of this meme. Like, for example, the art featured above is someone’s handcrafted derivative of a minion because they needed ones that looked like grandparents. Okay. And then there’s this:

strongminion

I have so many questions. I know why this is a sentiment that resonates with people, but:

  • why does it exist? like who was like, “I’m going to type this up, it’s IMPORTANT”
  • why slap a picture of a minion on it? the subject matter has so little to do with it
  • is the minion thinking about strong, beautiful women?
  • why not put a picture of a STRONG, BEAUTIFUL WOMAN on it?
  • what’s with the wonky justification on the font? (now I’m just being nitpicky)

I know, I know. The answer is “because internet”. That’s how these things work. You get something influenced by something influenced by something else and then we’re down the rabbit hole looking at something like this:

minionswearswhy

I’ve seen a lot of things come and go the internet. Especially little image based fads. Is this one a keeper? Maybe for a certain demographic. I certainly don’t see it going stale anytime soon.

But it is still pretty weird.