The fingerbox prank

The fingerbox prank A real fingerbox (or finger box)
I’m torn.

To explain the secret of the fingerbox is like explaining the secret of a magic trick. Once I explain it, it won’t fool you any more. So should I give it away or keep it a secret?

I’ll give you a choice. If you just want to know the secret without going to any other links, go to the SPOILER section below. Or, if you like mystery, read some of the links below first.

These links keep the secret alive:

  • For a quick experience of the fingerbox, go to this fingerbox site.
  • This thread at a 4chan archive shows the fingerbox at work.
  • A bit of fingerbox history and explanation>>
  • The creator of the fingerbox, Japanese artist Ay-O>>
  • An art exhibit that features one of Ay-O’s fingerboxes, at marshallastor.com>>
  • Buy the artist’s edition from a gallery here>>
  • Also see HeartFine Art>>

The SPOILER section:

I remember when I was a kid in the Boy Scouts. There was a kid who wasn’t too bright, and one time when we went camping we pranked him by making up a card game with an obscure set of rules that always allowed him to win no matter what hand he got: "Oh, you’ve got a black seven and a red five, well that’s a muddle which means you get to pick up the next six cards, which is the number between the seven and five, and you win 14 points for that…" My fellow pranksters would "lose" their hands and comment on what a good job he was doing. On and on it went until he won the game, thoroughly confused.

The fingerbox is a similar game, but without a winner.

At one point, a fingerbox was a real thing. It was artwork created by the Japanese artist Ay-O. In his tactile artwork, you stuck your finger inside and felt something.

Now it’s also a practical joke played on the Internet. Pranksters pretend that a fingerbox means something and they pretend that you should know what it is since they pretend that most people had a fingerbox when they were younger.

Of course all of that is a deception.

What do the pranksters pretend that a fingerbox means? Well, it depends on the prankster. Nobody will come right out and say exactly what a fingerbox does or what it’s used for. You might think that it’s vaguely sexual, since it has the words finger and box in it. But the fun of the joke for the pranksters is to keep descriptions just vague enough that a fingerbox will confuse anybody who’s not in on the joke.

The fingerbox prank is a prank that separates those who are in on the joke from those who don’t know the joke. People who are in on the prank – and don’t even know each other – will act like they know all about the fingerbox and will continue the joke, to the befuddlement of those who don’t get it.

Once you do get it – that the whole conversation about a fingerbox is just a joke – you still might be confused, and not wonder how it was done, but why: Why did all these people just make this up?

And now you can have a different relationship to the fingerbox pranking game, as either a wise observer, or a player yourself.

More links that explain fingerboxes:

  • This article explains the fingerbox: Check Out My Fingerbox – A Mysterious New 4chan Prank, urlesque>>
  • This one at Encyclopedia Dramatica ridicules the whole damn thing>>

2 thoughts on “The fingerbox prank”

  • Bob Brown says:

    Yes, but I spoil the prank, and you continue it.

    (Kevin’s explains more about fingerboxes in his link: "A bit of fingerbox history and explanation>>")

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