Applauding at an event isn’t exactly fun, sexy or particularly pleasant. Even when you’re applauding out of genuine appreciation for the performance of the person on stage, clapping your hands together repeatedly is draining, unpleasant and you never know when exactly to stop (stop applauding to soon and you look like an ingrate, applaud too long and you look like an over-eager douche). Applauding isn’t sexy or particularly pleasant and, save for giving the performers on stage immediate praise that they and their ego can feed on, applause isn’t scalable (can you take that exciting moment you just experienced and share it with your network?).
But over the past several years, with the advent of technology and social networks, that has all begin to change (and let me just say “Amen!”).
Wikipedia offers the following dandy definition of audience applause:
Applause (Latin applaudere, to strike upon, clap) is primarily the expression of approval by the act of clapping, or striking the palms of the hands together, in order to create noise. Audiences are usually expected to applaud after a performance, such as a musical concert, speech, or play. In most western countries, audience members clap their hands at random to produce a constant noise; however, it tends to synchronize naturally to a weak degree. As a form of mass nonverbal communication, it is a simple indicator of the average relative opinion of the entire group; the louder and longer the noise, the stronger the sign of approval. The custom of applauding may be as old and as widespread as humanity, and the variety of its forms is limited only by the capacity for devising means of making a noise (e.g., stomping of feet or rapping of fists or hands on a table).
I came across a photo (below) taken at The New York Asian Film Festival a few days ago wherein the audience gave a standing ovation for actor Donnie Yen. The difference between this standing ovation and the classic standing ovation is notable in that, instead of clapping, audience members stood and captured media (photos and video) of the moment with their mobile phones. This isn’t a new phenomenon (concert-goes have been doing this for years). But seeing it done in a more structured, formal event setting during a standing ovation is striking and telling. Wikipedia notes that applause “is a simple indicator of the average relative opinion of the entire group; the louder and longer the noise, the stronger the sign of approval“. Sounds like social media to me. Indeed, capturing media of the moment instead of clapping is a way of
I don’t expect hand-clapping as audience applause to disappear anytime soon but I’m not going to lie, I wouldn’t miss it if it did. When it comes to showing your appreciation for any performance I give on stage, you can keep the hand clapping. Capturing media with your cell phone is the best form of flattery (and it’s scalable).