Before I deleted Facebook when I realized that ol’ Zuck was watching me watch Netflix and using the gathered data to get me to buy things I probably actually want against my will, I played a little prank on one of my friends, which drove him to — well, I’ll get to that part later.
While minor capers are a good laugh and all, the Long Con is what we strive for, him and I, and I’m always on the lookout for a way to subvert his life. So once I noticed a loophole in the Facebook Advertising world, I figured I’d give it a real shot. Now this giant social media company allows you to buy ads on their platform and target them at people in your friends list based on their interests and hobbies and hopes and dreams, but they don’t want you targeting individual people, so the directed lists need to contain at least 20 people. However, if you play with the settings by creating a list of 19 females and 1 prankable male, then target only males from that list, a small investment allows you to show only the prankee whatever you want under the guise of ads.
The first step was to create an actual website for a psychiatrist, linked to from one ad alluding to his sociopathy and another casually referring a band he’d been in years earlier. He gets pet peeved by coffee drinkers who mispronounce “espresso”, so suddenly Starbucks-linking “Express-o Yourself” ads start appearing in his face. Then I started getting more explicit to his recent non-internet musings. He would bring up a topic in conversation, from George Foreman to Sheryl Crow to his own hairiness, and within a day he’d get a flurry of promotions for sweet grills and winding roads and 7-blade razors on his screen. Once he finally mentioned that the specificity of current ads on the internet was freaking him out a bit, I took that as my cue to turn on the gaslight and really get to work. I would include photos closely resembling his family members, which when clicked would coax him to buy kidnapping insurance, and for the next week I ensured he got inundated with firearm ads, most of them mentioning a fictional increased crime rate in his neighbourhood. These ones got to him enough that he went out and got a handgun to “protect (his) family from this dangerous world.” Skittish and afraid, he began locking himself in his house for days on end. I had him right where I wanted him, and it was time to take it up a notch.
I hired a few wannabes from my acting class and we all grabbed some prop weapons, put on masks, and bull rushed his house. I made sure to hang back a bit so I could really soak it all in. Out of nowhere, I hear a small explosion, so I hide behind a bush and try to peek in a window. My friend is covered in blood, and he’s definitely screaming in anger and crying in what-have-I-doneness. At this point I run into the house and yell, “You’ve been Long Conned,” which I didn’t even plan but in hindsight was the best thing I could’ve done. He kept crying and didn’t even seem to notice me or understand what a great prank just got played on him. At this point, the cops had shown up – a neighbour must have called them after hearing the fun commotion happening – and arrested my friend for something or other.
I don’t remember the trial very well but my buddy’s in jail now, and I hear he’s having a rough time. I’d visit him but those places give me the creepy jeebies.
[Author’s note: April Fool’s, birthday fool.]