The VIEW from here

Practical jokes today are no laughing matter

Gary Gould — Managing Editor

Gary Gould — Managing Editor

I ’ve always enjoyed a good prank or practical joke. Back when I was a teenager I remember a few practical jokes — like the time one buddy of mine jumped out of the darkness in a garage to scare another of our friends, only to get popped in the nose.

Then there was the friend who sent me a letter a month after graduation, written on school letterhead, informing me I would have to retake the entire last semester if I wanted my diploma.

Those were funny pranks. Today, however, kids seem to be more intent on taking their pranks to the next level — each time pushing the envelope further and further with total disregard to people’s feelings and safety.

Much of this seems to be connected to the video camera craze. Every phone these days has a camera so teenagers can be spontaneous and catch their pranks on video so they can throw it up on YouTube and try to get one million hits.

That’s right — YouTube is the preferred venue for airing these video pranks. When I talk about pranks, I mean the real bold and brazen stuff teens are pulling off these days. Some are completely harmless and fun, granted, but others are rude and dangerous.

I’ve seen videos where kids pull up to a fast food drive-thru window and order food to an entertaining rap — that’s funny. I’ve seen others where they drive up to get their food and throw it back at the clerk before driving off laughing. Not so funny.

Another big one right now is called “galloning” where someone (usually a teenage boy looking to impress his friends) goes into a supermarket, picks up a couple gallons of milk, and then as they walk through the store they throw down the gallons — causing them to burst open on the floor — and they purposely slip in the milk and fall.

Shoppers and store employees passing by then try to aid them, thinking they have slipped and fallen by accident. It may seem funny to watch some kid slipping and splashing around in milk, but no one takes into consideration who is going to pay for the spill, who has to clean it up and potential injury to the jokester and those around him (or her).

I’m not trying to sound like a grouchy old man, though I probably am to some degree, but there’s a fine line there as to what is funny and what’s not. Any prank that causes another person financial loss, stress or grief is pushing that proverbial envelope too far.

There’s nothing wrong with having a little fun, but life isn’t all about catching something funny on your cellphone video and uploading it to the internet. I hope teenagers, and the young at heart, will take this into consideration when they go out with the intention of playing a prank and having a good time.

A good joke is about making everyone laugh, even the person who is the subject of the joke. It’s called having a good sense of humor. It’s not about humiliating them or physically harming them just to make the numbers on their YouTube upload grow.

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