Dick Rolled — An April Fool’s Joke on All of Us

Brandon Na
5 min readApr 8, 2018

A week has passed since Google’s annual tradition of pranking the world with their April Fool’s joke. Usually, I’m more of a victim vs. a purveyor of this annual tradition. However, this year I ended up participating — given a good friend of mine made me think it was a good idea.

However, one of my business partners shared what was maybe “too much fun” by this corporate leader of the tech world. Shawn had texted that he had been “Rick Rolled.” He shared a link within a tool mainly SEO’s use and is definitely a place where you could “geek out.” The link appeared to be a new feature within the tool offering SEO’s the ability to “recrawl their site,” but instead “Rick Rolled” you when you clicked on it.

A few things were “interesting” about this prank (to me and should potentially be for the rest of the world). First, the joke was beyond the single day given to Google or maybe even other companies to pull these pranks. “Lying” or basically “joking” about someting untrue is allowed for one day a year. Twenty four hours. No more.

Perhaps they thought they needed a “business” day to pull the fleece over its consituents since this annual day of jokes was on a Sunday this year. Traffic is much higher on a weekday versus the quietest day of the week: Sunday.

Secondly, the joke was targeting and focused on a “nerdy” community and not the general public. There’s something slightly disturbing by this. Not only is the concept of being “Rick Rolled” focusing on a gay man naturally sexist against the gay community, but people find it o.k. to “punish” another by sending the visitor to a gay man’s video. Why? Because gay men singers are annoying? More importantly, but “Why does this company that produces billions in quarterly revenue have so much time on their hands they can spend days of valuable coding time to a joke EVERY year. I’ll bet it’s not just a single day of effort and in terms of actual time, it was definitely more than a single day this year.

However, when it comes to spending time on focusing on efforts like womens’ equality or maybe even racial equality, an excuse is always made by the main purveyor of the sexism that has spawned the #metoo movement. And white males aren’t the only ones out there who are passively or even downright circumventing the movement. For me, I don’t have necessarily a stake in this movement outside of my mother, my aunt, my good friends Crystal, Mai or Alda or even my favorite manager of all time, Cayley. I have to admit as an Asian male that I’m not out there pounding the pavement regularly supporting this recent effort to support womens’ equity across the board. My mom and my aunt along with my best guy friends who have daughters all either ignored or made fun of my inquiry to go to the womens’ march this year. Even my sons who I know for a fact love their mom and their step sister dearly didn’t understand why we should march out there for women.

Nevertheless, inappropriate “Rick Rolling” continues.

If you’re one of those many nerds, I see you’re already “rolling” your eyes. Here goes another liberal spouting off another claim of injustice on the most innocent of jokes. You might even be even asking yourself why am I calling out a small little prank when there are much more extreme atrocities like the memo that was leaked in your company and the other outright cases of sexual predator behavior.

Let me explain (even though you’re not listening or reading).

Two days ago — the day that my coworker shared the prank with me — I coincidentally was having dinner with one of the most amazing women I know. We were “catching up” after her business trips abroad. She is honestly one of the most brilliant and savvy ladies I am lucky to be friends with. She literally is a rocket scientist in the tech world. She’s somewhat soft spoken and listens before she talks. Her responses and her arguments are always solid and intelligent. She’s incredibly kind and one of the most fair people I know. However, she was exhausted. She was tired of the ridiculous behavior inside of the tech empire she works at. Yes, she works inside one of the largest technology companies that is regularly “one of the best places to work for.”

Her manager is one of these “innocent males” that consistently gets the ear of his male boss. This male suppressed her efforts and has never respected her. Why? Perhaps it’s because she’s a threat. Perhaps he can’t understand her. Perhaps he doesn’t even try to understand her despite being her manager.

This truly saddens me. As a minority, I do relate a bit with the #metoo movement. Frankly, minorities continue to face the same issues that women do. There is a glass ceiling and frankly, despite the rhetoric to the contrary, society (at least here in the west) doesn’t want to “balance” the races or the sexes and the many other ways society discriminates against the perceived weak or unfairly treated.

While the pranks may have seemed innocent, let me provide you an example of what it might feel like being on the other end.

What if there was a prank labeled “White Washed?”

Instead of being sent to a video of Rick Astley, after you click on some link that you thought was valuable, you were instead sent to a video of some white racist fat guy who needs about 3 cans of hair spray to make it appear as if he has a full head of hair. The video will contain footage of the guy talking about how men should “grab women by the pussy” whenever they feel they think it’s appropriate.

Wait a second.

America’s already been White Washed.

I digress.

However, if you do have any sense of equality or have even the slightest sympathy that joking about topics which target a minority or even you as a white male, I encourage you to do more than just say “I will support” [fill in the segment of society that’s been unfairly treated].

We’ll then be able to find much more entertaining topics to find humor on April 1st.

And we just might find much more of life to be enjoyable.

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Brandon Na

Brewing something more exciting than life itself