Have you noticed how in the last few years it has become normal for people on television to applaud themselves? I don’t know how or where this habit started but you are now looked upon as odd if, during a quiz show, you do not applaud wildly when you are introduced, when you get a question right, when you hear the answer to a question you got wrong, and even when you are told your time on the programme is at an end. Ladies and gentlemen, please give a round of applause for the person who is now clapping more enthusiastically than any of you at the marvellous contribution they made to the programme.
I remember it started with the youngsters but soon all the ‘woke’ elders looked at this behaviour and thought ‘ooh, is this a thing? I had better start applauding myself too’. In TV team games it is a bit easier to disguise the self-appreciative element, as when you are one of a team of three being introduced, you can ‘point’ your claps at your two teammates as though you would not dream of pretending that you were in any way garnering admiration for yourself. See ‘Mock The Week’ as an example. Many astute panel show contestants or chat show contributors have now adapted this such that when the host encourages the audience to thank them for their time on the programme, they hold their clapping hands out in front of them and sweep left and right, to indicate that they are thanking the audience for thanking them. Why?? Why not just sit there and look pleased, like you always used to do? What is the point of what you just so awkwardly did?
To me it just seems a slightly witless habit, particularly when you are applauding your own answers. Just watch Pointless and see if you can spot anyone who does not spontaneously applaud when told their answer scored, well, anything. Yaaaay! Well done me! Even if I got it wrong, the correct answer deserves applause, because it is…. er…. correct. Do they therefore applaud every time they read something on Wikipedia? Fortunately there are still some programmes (eg Mastermind) where self-clapping every question answered would look stupid, but in a way doesn’t that prove my point? You wouldn’t do it there, so why do it at all?
It won’t be long before those who don’t applaud themselves will start to be ‘called out’ and shamed on social media for not being inclusive or something (sorry, I always struggle to understand and explain what makes Twitterers angry). Then we will find schoolchildren clapping themselves when they answer a question correctly in class (perhaps they already do). Then when on the BBC news Huw Edwards thanks a correspondent for the report they have just delivered, rather than standing there with a rictus grin waiting for the camera to leave them, they will excitedly applaud themselves. No, actually, the more you think about it, the sillier it is. So everyone, how about we stop doing it?