Social ostracization is never on the menu


Thadd Simpson

At my high school, we had a decaying weight-room with a single steel door between it and our practice gym. The floor was covered in some sort of rhino-lined tar, and the Olympic style bars were chipping chrome finish, exposing their long-rusted iron cores. The outdated 50 by 50 foot room was dimly lit and crammed full of exercise equipment, practically dripping with Staph infection. Every day after school, around 60 or so vicious, sweaty, teenage boys (and occasionally girls) would file in and spend an hour or two pumping iron.

One not-so-unique tradition was that whenever someone dropped weight on the ground, after the thunderclap of noise had dispersed into the cement walls, every macho man (and woman) would turn to the poor soul who dropped it and shower him (or her) in shaming applause.

Once, I even dropped a weight, when I think I was a freshman. I’m not going to lie and tell you I was emotionally scarred by it, that’s not even the point I’m trying to make. Shaming of anyone for any reason is inexcusable, and it blows my mind that it happens almost weekly in the upper-gag cafeteria.

We have all seen some unfortunate soul drop a plate or cup on their way to the dish-washing conveyor belt, and we have all heard the subsequent applause that comes afterwards from the dining audience. If you personally have taken part in clapping for someone else’s accident, ask yourself if that was the right thing to do.

There is no sugar-coating this, either. Clapping when someone makes a mistake in order to make them feel bad or embarrassed (and that’s the only reason anybody claps) is a horrible, awful, demonic thing to do. Shaming, as a form of social control, has no benefit to anyone, and is more destructive and cruel than any well-adjusted person would ever want to be.

If you clap, you should feel sick after that person scampers behind the wall, clutching their dishes with a white-knuckled grip. You shouldn’t be able to sleep at night after doing something like that. That’s fifth-grade girl level stuff.

I’m not trying to preach to anyone, but this just makes us all look bad, all of Wayne State. It makes us look like animals, or worse, teenage boys (and girls). I have to assume, that at some point a high schooler has visited the gag during lunchtime, maybe with thoughts of attending WSC in the future, and has been confronted with the same aforementioned scene.

“Oh, this same thing happens at my school,” they might say to their student navigator.

If this doesn’t boil your blood, it should. Why did we come to college, if not to escape from our childish habits and better ourselves as human beings? If we hate being called kids so much, why do we continue to act like them?

No excuse makes up for this behavior, not even the “just going along with the crowd” one applies. You’re in the gag to eat, not to clap–social ostracization is never on the menu. And besides, who makes it this far in life without being able to think for themselves? Just make the conscious choice not to clap, just ignore it when someone drops their stuff. You know, like an adult.

The sad thing is that this article won’t change anything, even if everyone on campus reads it. Tomorrow, I’ll be eating in the cafeteria, and I’ll hear the applause after someone drops a dish. The only way this changes, is if we hold ourselves accountable for what goes on in our lunchroom. If you see someone clapping, please, politely tell them that they are shaming a human being with each clap. Or if you, like me, don’t have the balls to say that to someone’s face, just yell it out while it’s happening, and pretend like somebody else said it.

I know that won’t be easy, so I’ll leave you with one of the most inspirational things my football coach ever said to me. Somebody had just dropped the weight, back in my high school weight-room. We were just beginning to clap, myself included, when the golden words of insight and beauty leapt from his mouth.

“Don’t clap!” He shouted, veins bulging in his neck. “D-bags clap!”