True stories of the clueless

by Adam Reger

Right off, I’ll warn you that this is going to be a bit meaner than many of my previous blog posts. But I believe the joy I take in this person’s failure is well-earned, in this case.

Here’s the background: I administer the social media accounts for a large university. It’s fun: my job is to post things several times a day on Facebook and Twitter, and to some extent to engage with people on those sites. What’s more, I’ve got some flexibility and I’m able to come up with ideas, implement them, and get the immediate gratification (or, sometimes, the lack of it) of getting “likes,” retweets, and appreciative comments (or, again, snarky comments).

A case in point was this Monday. It was April 1; i.e., April Fool’s Day. I had what I thought was a great idea for a post. I worked on doctoring up a photograph on Friday and would periodically think about this joke throughout the weekend, sort of chuckling to myself.

(Very briefly, yet more background: at this large university, there is a very tall, gothic-looking building where a couple of peregrine falcons like to nest. There’s a webcam set up on them, and lots of great photos have been appearing over the last week (like this one, taken from the great “Outside My Window” bird blog) as one of the falcons has been laying her eggs for the year. It’s been great fodder for Facebook and Twitter, and I’ve milked it to the fullest extent.)

The idea was the image you see below: Dorothy, the new mother, having laid one additional egg: a dragon’s egg, from Game of Thrones (which, neatly enough, had had its season 3 premiere the night before).


Is it great Photoshopping? Of course not. But is it fun? Certainly.

So, cut to the purpose for my writing this. Several hours later, several dozen “likes” and retweets and friendly comments in, the comment in the following photo appears. (The names of certain people have been blacked out to protect them in their naivete.)

Dum dum 2 fixed

In case you can’t read it, the person writes, “nice joke, SET THE BIRD FREE!”

There are great responses in the rest of the comments, most asking, “Is that an April Fool’s joke, too?” One or two people pointed out that, what, this bird is totally free already. Then, some wonderful person pointed out what I had realized, but didn’t dare mention in my capacity as account administrator: this commenter had several weeks previous made the same comment, demonstrating an apparent belief that this photo shows a peregrine falcon in a dingy cage, for some reason enslaved by the major research university and elite public educational institution that employs me. (For the record, via the National Aviary, here is a web cam with more information about the whole set-up. Suffice it to say, these falcons are quite literally as free as birds.)

I could not resist clicking the person’s name to find out what his/her deal was. Lo and behold, I found the image below:

Dum dum 1 fixed

The person shared the photo on his/her own Facebook page, with a message reading, “To all my fellow animal activists will you send [the name of the university (written incorrectly, I can’t help pointing out)] a little message about the importance of freedom, look at where they have this noble creature!”

Oh, dear God.

I shouldn’t jump on this person too much, because one of his/her friends later commented that it appeared the peregrines were free indeed, and just perched in this spot, and the person basically acknowledged this. But come on. There is something about someone jumping to a conclusion like this, granting zero credit and being so swift to be outraged, that their being mistaken and my having the opportunity to revel in it is just. Irresistible. That it was all unfolding on April Fool’s made it that much sweeter and more poignant.