The sweet science of snap

Man Under Bridge

Words have failed us. The up and down head nod has gone the way of the dinosaur and applause is something reserved only for the State of the Union or the final lecture of the semester. In their place: the snap.

No, these snappers aren’t keeping time. They aren’t snapping metaphorically, either, as in, “Snap out of it, Berkeley. Use your words damn it!” They are snapping because they agree with something someone is saying.

And when they snap, the whole world hears the click of their fingers — or at least those unfortunate enough to be sitting within earshot do.

There are a few varieties of the snapper on campus, and before we come up with a proper counter, we need to identify who or what we are up against. Use the following as a brief primer of what you can expect out in the jungles of Berkeley.

The Starved Beast Snapper. At its best, this person looks like an overenthused, underimportant member of the group to which they belong. They are the choir the speaker is preaching to. Though there was never any doubt that the Starved Beast wouldn’t support the speaker, they double down in their efforts to make loud, obnoxious clicking sounds. At their worst, they are the ones making up for the lack of enthusiasm in the crowd. They look and act like a hungry carnivore who smells steak on the grill, barely able to hold themselves in their seats as their powerful snaps propel them upwards toward eternal insignificance.

The Nonchalant, ‘Yeah I Could Be Elsewhere’ Snapper. This is the kind of person who would sit next to you and maybe say something like, “Can you believe these idiots and their loud snapping?” All the while they are keeping their wrist firm on the desk or in their lap but moving their fingers ever-so-slightly to shoot off a snap. Sometimes, they can be seen staring into a computer or book at meetings and events, giving off that disengaged vibe, but keeping up with the beat of approval nonetheless.

The “Mmhmm” Snapper. Also classified as the Righteous Snapper, this kind of person is unabashed and upfront when they agree with a speaker. The words they are hearing, the images they are seeing touch the Righteous Snapper on such an emotional level that finger movement doesn’t appear to even be a conscious act. It looks as if instinct and emotion have completely hijacked this person’s sense of being in public, and they couldn’t care less. Be warned, though — this snapper is verbally lethal and devoted to their cause.

Unlike the previous two, this person really cares, and caring is the first step down a slippery slope to standing up for what you believe in.

So we’ve covered the basic forms a snapper might take. Though there are plenty of others out there, I just don’t have the time to cover them all. But now the job turns to us to come up with an equally obnoxious way of showing our disdain for what we hear — for what they may or may not be snapping at.

If only there were some way we could play this game on their level.

Some sort of finger motion that suggests, “Hey, I don’t necessarily agree with what you’re saying and rather than speak up about it or nod my head side-to-side, I want to become a distraction.”

So take a few moments to examine your hand and all of the possibilities. The formations are endless, so we’ve got to stick with something straightforward and biting.

Something that connotes disagreement.

Hold the phone. I think we’ve got a solution. A historical solution. One finger. One hand. What better way to show we don’t agree than being disagreeable?

Now, I’m not suggesting we run around flipping public speakers off.

That would be unbecoming of us.

But when you hear those snappers, be them hungry, nonchalant or righteous, clicking their bony little fingers in approval of someone spewing mouth-garbage, sit down and salute. It is your duty. A silent protest, yes, but is it effective? You bet.

Of course your gesture won’t be received kindly, but you shouldn’t be discouraged. The snappers are going to snap regardless of how unwelcome their noise pollution is, and if it makes any difference, take comfort in knowing you aren’t really being that disruptive. You aren’t competing with the speaker in terms of volume; you probably aren’t even competing for attention. You are simply providing a visual contrast.

Nothing more, nothing less.

One finger standing silent against the roar of a dozen snaps. One finger. One hand. An army of dissenters.

Stand strong, and one day, the spoken word, the applause and/or the head nod will make a valiant return.

Until then, we have the finger.

But if that’s too crazy for you, there are always fog horns. Yeah, fog horns should work just fine. Now, can a guy get some snaps for this or what?