Photo cred - Tully McWatters
This is the story of a University student in Toronto who convinced thousands of people he was leaving for another planet for the rest of his life and then convinced them he had graciously given his spot up to someone else. 20-year-old, Apostolos "Tully" McWatters, missed the deadline to enter for the Mars One expedition, a venture that will send 100 people into Mars in 2024, so he decided to take matters into his own hands.
"The big question on our minds was, can we produce a seamless story, and if so, how many people can we convince?" McWatters told me. "It started with a Facebook status. When people started buying that, we knew we had to make a video. He assembled a small "marketing" team to help him live and breathe the story, including his classmates and close friends Ben Ball and Orest Kus. They started by creating the following video, which they connected to a falsified Vimeo account with all the official design and videos of Mars One to improve believability. The video currently sits at just under 4,000 views. They then wrote an article under the persona of a 2nd year Journalism student from Trent University and threw that onto the web garnering a couple thousand more views.
All they had to do now was sit back and watch what would happen next. Tully received an influx of emails, Facebook messages and comments from friends, family and strangers across the web. He let the chaos stew for a couple of days before sharing a Facebook post on Monday night telling all of his supporters he had decided to forego the trip because of "an incredibly strange feeling that told [him] that it was [his] place to stay on Earth." That Facebook post received hundreds of more likes and kind messages from supporters.
"I thought that the post Tully made [Monday] was hilarious because it sealed the prank to a point where we could actually just never say anything else about Tully going to Mars ever again and never break it to anyone that it was a prank in the first place..." Ball told me of the conclusion.
So What was the point? Why go through so much work to put together a prank of such large proportions? According to McWatters, "This wasn't a project or a reflection on how easily fabricated the media is, even though you could take it that way. We just wanted to tell a story and make people eventually laugh." but we can't help but make this is an example of how gullible the internet and social media has made our world.
So there you have it, Tully isn't going to Mars in 2024 never to return again and he never was. Epic.