'The Leaning Tower Fell’ Is the Best New TikTok Meme

This is a kind of prank I thought that the internet would have completely killed.
February 19, 2021, 5:59pm
A crude photoshop of the leaning tower of pisa laying on its side.

The funniest thing you can do right now is record your friends while you tell them that the Leaning Tower of Pisa just fell (it didn't).

Around four days ago, a trend started passing through TikTok. People were recording themselves telling their friends that the Leaning Tower of Pisa had fallen. Clearly this is false—the tower is fine. The videos of these people's reactions, though? They are very, very funny.

The prank has also spread to Twitter, mostly in the form of adults complaining that they have been fooled by teenagers, which is hilarious in a different way.

This is a kind of prank I thought that the internet would have completely killed. Because we have the ability to fact check things on the fly, I always assume that that's what people do. In fact, when I tried this prank on Motherboard's Aaron Gordon, he Googled the information rather than blindly believing me. But what these videos are showing is that lying to your friends for fun is still, well, fun, as long as you catch them on tape right before they look it up.

What's interesting is what makes this act specifically a prank rather than a wild spread of disinformation. The issue of misinformation spreading rapidly on the internet has been a constant issue and talking point over the last decade or so, exacerbated by four years of a President who actively courted conspiracy theorists and amplified them himself. This culminated in conspiracy theorists storming the Capitol last month. 

Reality, at this point, feels completely fungible. More often than not, I feel like I'd be a bigger fool for disbelieving something than for believing it. Hell, when the Capitol was stormed in January, for a second I thought it was a sick joke. It isn't even a matter of what feels true or doesn't feel true—we can no longer sense the truth by touch.

What makes the Leaning Tower prank funny and relatively harmless is that it is an easily disprovable lie, and that the entire prank can last, at most, a couple seconds or minutes. The tower is still verifiably there, standing, as it has been for hundreds of years.