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Thursday, October 02, 2014, 3:54 a.m.
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Pranks play out on social media

By Tammy Keith

This article was published April 27, 2014 at 12:00 a.m.

People who like to play practical jokes have a whole new audience, thanks to social media.

One of those is my 24-year-old son, who has loved pranking people all his life.

He never waited until April Fools’ Day to hide a plastic cockroach in my sock drawer, stick a fake spider in the cereal box or put a fake snake where I would find it and scream. He always got me.

On April 1, though, I especially had to be on my guard. He and my husband had competitions to see who could out-trick whom.

Social media, though, have given my son a much bigger audience. That, combined with a gullible mother, is perfect for him.

One day when he was visiting my husband and me, he said, “Mom, did you hear? Bill Cosby died.”

I turned in my computer chair, gasped loudly and put my hand over my mouth, then asked, “Oh, no! What happened?”

As you know, Bill Cosby is alive and well, at least as I write this.

My son was videoing my reaction on his phone to create something called a Vine. That’s not something you swing on. It’s a looping video clip of six seconds or fewer, posted online.

My husband is in the background of this video, mouth agape in mock shock.

Apparently, this Vine got lots of “likes” online.

My younger son is not as prone to play pranks, but if my husband, who unlike me has a Facebook page, left his page unguarded, my son would put as my husband’s status: “I am a flying duck-billed platypus.” No, it doesn’t make sense, but that’s just his thing.

Of course, Facebook is a great place to post embarrassing or funny pictures, videos or texts.

Just last week, my older son played a different joke on me. I texted him on his day off and asked if he was playing golf.

He replied: “Of course not, where are you?”

Me: “Why not? It’s a gorgeous day. … I’m at work.”

Him: “We have your seat saved.”

Me: “Huh? Where are you?” (I felt a slight sense of panic as I tried to remember if we were supposed to meet for lunch or something.)

Him: “Mom, it’s about to start — they’re dimming the lights.”

Me: “John Keith! You’re making me feel crazy.”

Of course, he posted a screen shot of the exchange on Facebook. So glad I can be fodder for his fun.

On Easter, I asked him to take pictures of me with his fiancee.

He snapped a couple, then said, “Mom, there’s a bug crawling up your shirt.”

Of course, I reacted, and he snapped. However, I was a bit too calm, and he didn’t deem the picture Facebook-worthy, thank goodness.

His fiancee is sometimes the source of his tricks — she almost didn’t look at the cupcakes he baked her with “Will You Marry Me” on top in icing because she thought they were old and that he was just trying to trick her. She’s used to it.

I’m used to my husband’s tricks, too. He still likes to do it the old-fashioned way. On April Fools’ Day, he hid a big rubber spider in my camera bag, a trick that failed because I never opened the bag.

He also took to work a big, realistic-looking rubber snake that my older son bought at Silver Dollar City about 15 years ago.

My husband put the snake in a chair in his office and covered it with a newspaper so that when a student or someone moved the paper to sit, the snake would scare him out of his skin.

My husband gleefully related how he held the snake around an open office door where students were gathered with another journalism professor. One girl screamed, fell all over herself, pushed past another girl and broke a lamp.

Too bad he didn’t have that on video. That would have gotten a ton of hits online.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

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