Torment By Tapping
A repetitive noise or action used to annoy or actively torment someone.
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(permanent link) added: 2014-06-04 10:18:10 sponsor: Willbyr (last reply: 2014-07-17 06:56:28)

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Everyone knows that one person in the classroom or office who compulsively clicks their pen, snaps gum, drums their fingers, taps a foot, or does something else that makes a repetitive sound and/or motion. It can be very annoying if you're stuck in the same space with them, but odds are, they're not really doing it on purpose. It's just a tic they have when they're focused on what they're doing. Young children often do this as well with things that make noise; if they find it fascinating or amusing, they'll do it for what seems like forever, and if you can't get away from it, it can drive you batty...but again, it's not really done on purpose, it's just what kids do.

Torment By Tapping takes this to the next level by making it deliberate. At its most innocent, it can be just done to pester someone, usually for attention or ribbing. Sometimes the person knows that the target dislikes that sort of thing and does it for amusement at their discomfort. At its most malicious, it's an effective tool for psychological torment, and can even be a torture technique.

This can also be done by actually doing something to the person, such as repeatedly tapping them somewhere on their body (usually the head or face), or something more violent like thumping them on the ear or sticking them with something pointy.

A tactic sometimes employed by an Annoying Younger Sibling, The Bully or the Mean Boss. Bullying a Dragon can also be done with this. Has a similar effect on the victim as a Brown Note. Sister Trope to Loud of War. Compare Most Annoying Sound. Related to:


Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • In Soul Eater, Death the Kid was once tortured by being tapped repeatedly on only one side of his face, making the two sides uneven.

Comic Strips
  • In one For Better or for Worse comic, Michael repetitively messes with the spring door stop, causing it to "boing" incessantly. Finally, Elly yells, "All right, you can watch television!"

Fan Fiction
  • Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality's Professor Quirrell decides to hum a Muggle lullaby in jail...sort of. The humming begins normal, but after five minutes, turns erratic, in a consistently inconsistent pattern. The narration notes that the humming sounds like what a torturer would come up with if they decided to restrict themselves to humming, for fun. Quirrell's guard calls in a code meaning a successful interrogation attack was underway.

Film
  • In Wanted, Wesley's foul-mouthed, verbally abusive boss carries a stapler around and aggressively snaps it in his ear while she's berating him, compounding his stress. The sound and visual effects added during these scenes make the effect even more intolerable, even for the audience.
  • In Shrek 2 while the protagonists are traveling to Far, Far Away Donkey repeatedly makes a noise by smacking his lips together to Shrek's complete annoyance. It has similar effect as to repeating "Are We There Yet?" (which he also does and which also annoys Shrek).

Literature
  • Perelandra features this, overlapping with Evil Is Petty. When Ransom finds himself stuck on a small island with a demon, the demon resorts to annoying Ransom. He calls Ransom's name, then when Ransom asks what he wants, he answers "Nothing". He repeats this for hours.

Live-Action TV
  • MythBusters tested Chinese water torturenote  and found it to be disturbingly effective, as it made Kari break down after only a few minutes. She was able to calm herself enough to keep going, but an EMT eventually called the test off.
  • In the Sherlock episode "His Last Vow", the season's Big Bad spends some time tormenting a helpless John Watson by flicking him in the face. Because of the blackmail material he has on John's wife, he has no choice but to stand there and take it. Even when the villain moves on to flicking him in the eye. "Try to keep it open, John. Try to keep it open!"
  • One episode of Scrubs had Turk unconsciously angry with JD after he and Carla accidentally kissed. He keeps punching him in the same spot without realising it until JD's able to make him realise he's doing it.

Web Video

Western Animation

  • The start of this clip from Lilo & Stitch shows the classic "I'm not touching you!" pestering move that young kids love to do.
  • * In the American Dad! episode "Son Of Stan," Roger attempts to force Hayley and Jeff to hand him the $50,000 they conned out of Stan and Francine, merely by repeatedly making a nasal squawking sound. Hayley at first mocks this, but hours upon hours of this slowly drive her and Jeff to insane lengths to get rid of him.


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