Thursday, April 18, 2013

April Fools' Day in an Information Society

Holidays tend to either express or invert the values of their culture. A simple example of this is Mardi Gras/Carnival and Lent in Catholic cultures--one holiday to acknowledge the excess the culture works against; another to showcase the values of restraint and repentance the culture strives for. In the Jewish holiday calendar, built in an agricultural society, the pairs are similar but with the values almost reversed: feast days celebrate the abundance the culture strives for; fasts give a picture of that joy overturned.

This April 1st, half of what I saw on Facebook was a barefaced lie. It was glorious. As usual, Google itself contributed a generous budget to developing elaborate April Fools' Day jokes. For one day, the Internet's aspiration of granting instant access to reliable information was tossed upside down. Carnival for an information age.

I think April Fools' Day will only get bigger and more important as the internet continues to shape our culture. It's a holiday well-suited for our age.

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