Please hold your snaps

By Rachel Walman

(Jessica Picard/ Daily Collegian)
(Jessica Picard/ Daily Collegian)

What began as audience encouragement at poetry slams and improvisational comedy performances has become widespread in college – and even high school – classroom discussions and academic-based debates. To show personal approval and agreement with the idea or opinion of another classmate, it is now very common to snap one’s fingers during or after the aforementioned statement.

This type of snapping first became prevalent during the pinnacle years of the rebellious and politically-themed beatnik poets in nightclubs, jazz houses and cafes. Snapping was the quieter, less disturbing substitute for clapping. But nowadays, snapping is used not as a substitute for applause, but rather as a public way to show that you stand with the speaker.

Why do we do it? The same way you can “retweet” on Twitter and “like” on Facebook and Instagram, snapping has become the automatic response that is given to a verbal tweet or status update.

Our generation has become used to giving our instant feedback at all times. We don’t even need to hear the end of a statement to let everyone around us, including the speaker, know that we approve.

It has become so ingrained into the non-verbal lexicon across college campuses to the point that I do not believe it will simply fizzle out. I see it in clubs and during activities meetings, and have experienced it during classroom discourse. I have had people snap at the things I have said. And I don’t like it.

Snappers may argue that what they are doing is a respectful, reassuring gesture that emboldens students to speak about their ideas with more confidence. Unfortunately, however, it also does the exact opposite. When someone speaks their opinion only to be met with no snaps, they may feel an inevitable lowering of confidence. It is ultimately more difficult to give a counter-argument to an idea that has already been met with a multitude of snaps.

While it is true that I have heard great ideas or opinions that I too share, that have been met with snapping, I find it almost rude that snappers feel as though they have a place publically calling attention to themselves. A snap is essentially saying, “Attention, everyone, guess what? I really like what this person is saying and you all should know that I agree with them.”

Snapping takes the focus away from where it should be: on the speaker. With snapping, we are made to pay attention to the audience rather than the words being spoken. Discussions are places for using words, not gestures. Instead of taking the time to come up with our own statements for input, we fall into an instantaneous-gratification type of behavior.

I know that the people of our generation – including myself – take pride in being liberal, open-minded and focused on the acceptance of all creeds, peoples and opinions. Why then do we lend ourselves to such a practice that inevitably stops different ideas from being shared? Shatter the atmosphere of conformity: stop classroom snapping.

Rachel Walman is a Collegian contributor and can be reached at [email protected]