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One of the most ubiquitous trends to come out of Black Twitter is the use of the clap emoji for impact. The act of clapping in someone’s face to emphasize each word of a sentence turns out to translate perfectly to Twitter arguments, and the emoji conveys it smoothly and elegantly. Unfortunately, it’s👏a👏pain👏in👏the👏ass👏to👏type👏 (or copy and paste) after every word. That’s where a new site called Clap Back comes in.
If you need to clap back at someone—metaphorically clapping your hands as you speak, not metaphorically shooting at them—you can just type your rant into Clap Back. It’ll add the clap emoji for you whenever you hit [spacebar]. Even faster: you can write somewhere else, and paste the text into Clap Back.
It works with text of virtually any length, too. One of my coworkers received an email with claps added to the entire text of Bee Movie. He says it crashed his email client, but it was worth it.
One thing to watch out for, though: don’t forget the clap at the end. If you don’t put a space at the end of your sentence—an unnatural thing to do—you’ll be left hanging without a clap on your last word.
The clap emojis read to some people as clapping between words, but they actually represent clapping as you say each word. As white Twitter users started to appropriate, complain about, and write misguided editorials about the clap emoji, Black Twitter has been forced to show up and explain how it really works.https://twitter.com/acoyne/status/856710678761033728
i sense someone who thinks you're supposed to clap between the words https://t.co/XLovcKR89l— darkwing duck fan (@vmochama) April 25, 2017
Leaving off a clap at the end leaves one word unclapped, a limp and ineffectual end to a mini-lecture that’s supposed to be full of emotion. It also risks being identified as someone who thinks the clapping sound goes between the words.
The creators of Clap Back get it, though. Zack Johnson, who built the site with his brother Kyle, told the Daily Dot that although they don’t use the clap emoji themselves, they’re fans of the form. He cited a couple of good comedic tweets that use the claps effectively:https://twitter.com/JonBaker/status/864640761702359041 https://twitter.com/Jack_Heikens/status/861369267543044097
“We’re both meme boys who like single-serving microsites that do one stupid thing,” Johnson wrote.
He also acknowledged that the clapping meme comes from black culture, but said Clap Back isn’t about appropriating it.
“Black Twitter is a force when it comes to politics, activism, and starting trends. As is often the case with a lot of what begins on Black Twitter, using the clapping emoji has entered mainstream Twitter, and even Weird Twitter,” he wrote.
“The dynamic is certainly a complex one, but our intention was just to make a fun thing, not to appropriate something as our own.”
And, for the record, he reads the claps as happening at the same time as the words, not in between.
Jay Hathaway is a former senior writer who specialized in internet memes and weird online culture. He previously served as the Daily Dot’s news editor, was a staff writer at Gawker, and edited the classic websites Urlesque and Download Squad. His work has also appeared on nymag.com, suicidegirls.com, and the Morning News.