Though I really don't think pranks should be illegal, I strongly believe we should voluntarily stop participating in doing them and watching them. Today being April Fool's Day, the "signature day for pranks" I thought it would be a good day to state my issues with pranks.
First of all, pranks are "pulled" on innocent victims for the purpose of getting them to feel strong feelings (fear, anger, jealousy, embarrassment, shame, etc.) and then having them find out the situation that made them feel those feelings didn't really happen: ''IT WAS JUST A JOKE - APRIL FOOL'S."
Here are the problems:
1. Humiliating someone in public (these pranks are always done in public) is insensitive and mean and can lead to lasting feelings of shame, even for people who are pretty confident and sure of themselves. No one knows how they would react in a certain situation until it presents itself, so there's no way to prepare. People may be surprised and deeply disappointed in themselves for the way they reacted to a false scenario that is then witnessed by others. There's no way to "redo" it. Once it's done, it's over and friends, classmates, or family members will always remember the reaction to the prank which can lead to deep humiliation on the part of the victim.
2. There are many people walking around with serious mental health issues, PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), or are suffering from a significant loss (a job, a house, or even a parent, spouse or child), or have a serious health issue. It's impossible to know ahead of time who will be severely impacted in a negative way by a prank. You can't test people in advance. And you can't know what's really going on inside them when you decide to prank them.
We've already heard about one tragic case in London in which a nurse who was pranked by some Radio DJ's pretending to be the Queen took her own life as a result of a prank. There probably were other factors, but the prank played a role. That's the problem. You can't know the other factors that are affecting a person's ability to laugh at themselves and let it go and move on. Some people are good at that. But many aren't. Someone may be ok with it one day and not ok the next.
3. Pranks erode our trust in each other. Every time we see a prank or hear about one, we never accept the same situation again. We question whether what is happening is real or whether it's a prank. When Jimmy Kimmel tells parents to take away their kids' Halloween candy, tell them they ate it all and film the reactions for Youtube, how long will it take for those kids to trust their parents again? If it was only a joke then, is it a joke now? How do I know? Will that trust ever come back? And will the kids decide to prank their parents to get back at them? The consequences of eroding trust between parents and children could be catastrophic.
The proliferation of prank shows on TV - including one by Betty White in which older people prank younger people - is a sad sign of who we are today. We consider watching an innocent person being humiliated an acceptable form of entertainment. Really? Do we really want this to be true?
In case you haven't noticed, the innocent pranks of Candid Camera days of having a mailbox move a few inches or a traffic cop doing a dance have changed into having a boat explode during a wedding ceremony as a result of a "fake" firework, people thinking their cars have just been crashed into, and that someone just got murdered in front of their eyes.
I hope reading this has caused you to give some serious thought to your position on pranks and possibly has inspired you to refrain from being involved in pranks in the future.