Can there be a deadly condition of “too much applause” that is bad for the body and damaging to the community whole?  Is it more cruel to sit on your hands and withhold applause — or is it better to applaud to show support and how well mannered you are no matter who or what or why your hands are making sound against each other?


We have a terrible tendency as programmed members of society to voraciously applaud every little fart and burp in the name of celebrity, politics and sports and I wonder why we so aimlessly and automatically join the applause of others?

Why is there such a race between two hands clapping?  Do we become our enthusiastic hands even as our spirit dies? 

If we clap the loudest, does that mean we are set apart from those who merely clap — but never really applaud?

When our hands become numb and red from over-clapping — have we succeeded only in creating private pain and not a unique, public, celebration?

Applause has become a way for an audience to unduly assert their personality into an event to affect the outcome.  Clapping blesses only the famous few; clapping interrupts major speeches; clapping is an overt, partisan, act in what should be universally encouraged competition between athletes.

Violent applause pleases no one and wounds the atmosphere of coming together as a single, cognitive, mob of emotion.  One person clapping isn’t an audience and a group of people refusing to applaud sends an ominous and dangerous message that the masses are not pleased.

Applauding is a voice in your wrists, a vote in your hands, and a knife in your fingertips; and we must all begin to re-evaluate how and where we choose to serve up the total emotion of full-body applause.

Do we reserve our loudest exhortations for only those we love and personally know? 

Or is it wholly proper to applaud in the abstract for team, country and party?

To applaud for everything renders the acting meaningless; to applaud without devotion is a condemnation against desire; and applause without intent leaves us all directionless and uninspired by the very act that is supposed to lift us up to the heavens in the arms of others.

20 Comments

  1. The problem in the USA, at least, Katha — is that if you don’t stand and salute and applaud and scream you’re considered un-American or you don’t support the team/president/war/olympics/movie…

  2. Well, David – so what if you don’t just “support” it? You have every right to voice your opinion!
    Or one needs to be politically correct to be a part of the system?

  3. Hi Katha —
    If you don’t at least pretend to go along you get punished and ostracized. Have you seen fake clapping? People look like they’re clapping, but they never let their palms touch to make a sound. It’s a fascinating revelation of a private rebellion.

  4. Yes. You pretend to be clapping but if everyone else stopped clapping you would not be making any sound. Theatre people are sort of famous for doing that — it’s a silent protest against their envy and jealousy against the success of others.

  5. I am fond of fake clapping. Sometimes I will intentionally do what I call uncoordinated clapping, where I miss on purpose.
    It makes me giggle when an audience claps at the end of a movie. Who is their intended recipient for their applause?

  6. David!
    It is the applause of the many-headed, fully automatic that we must not take to heart, for they come loud and they come in great numbers and with scant understanding.

  7. Gordon! You fake clapper you! We should not confuse “fake clapping” with ye olde “golf clap” for those who are keeping score.
    Wasn’t uncoordinated clapping perfected by Ronald Reagan while president? He never seemed able to keep the beat.
    The end-of-the-movie clappers are slapping themselves on the back for being able to put up with such a waste of time and money.
    We thank you.

  8. Dananjay —
    Right! Have you ever seen a “State of the Union” address from the USA? The inane clapping is so fake, so loud, and so partisan that it makes the speech twice as long as it should be!

  9. Yes, David, I think I saw one long ago. But I know exactly what you’re referring to, it’s almost like we clap because it’s expected and the done thing. more like a ritual than every person’s individual expression of solidarity.

  10. I distinctly remember when I went to see the reissue of Episode IV of Star Wars that people applauded when the LucasArts logo appeared on the screen; I laughed out of amazement and amusement.

  11. Dananjay —
    Yes, it’s an inglorious waste of time while people leap to their feat and applaud at every little thing. It’s incredibly disingenuous.

  12. Right, Gordon! How funny! I wonder if they applaud movies at home or only in a packed theatre?
    Wasn’t there a great line in the last Star Wars movie about democracy dying in applause and cheering as war is declared?

  13. Applause is a strange thing, Gordon. It requires groups. Individuals clapping alone always brings unwanted attention — yet, even in a group, someone needs to start the applause.
    “Reading the applause” is an art in itself!