Are Public Sobfests Ruining Crying Forever?S

Writing for the Times of London, Tom Whipple wonders when everyone decided it was okay to cry in public, and if our tendency to cry over seemingly everything is taking the true meaning out of our tears.

"From Gazza to Kate Winslet and The X Factor, passing Diana, Princess of Wales on the way, we have not just lost the quiet stoicism that was once the foundation of our national pride - we have also lost our shame," Whipple writes of the British, "The question among those of us left to mourn - in suitably restrained fashion - the passing of British reserve is: is too much crying cause for concern? And what, in any case, is the point of it?"

While Whipple's piece centers mainly on the famed "British upper lip," he also speaks to Phillip Hodson, Fellow of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, who argues that every emotional display in public is a false one: "Public outpourings of grief do not reflect actual emotional pain," Hodson says, "What is irritating is lachrymosity - shedding tears, but not crying. If you cry not because of the effect of something but because you deem yourself affected, you do a disservice to yourself and mislead others." This argument can be applied, I suppose, to the outpouring of grief seen after celebrity deaths, and Hodson argues that crying over such things sets us up to be shocked and unable to grieve properly when something tragic hits our lives directly.

I'm a bit torn on this; I do think some people play up their emotions in public and allow themselves to get caught up in mass grief as a means to connect with others or to feel like they're a part of something, but I think it's unfair to assume that all public displays of sadness, even for something as silly as watching a sad scene in a movie theater, are false in some way. While the story on the screen is fictional, the emotion it evokes is not, and I don't really think crying in public is really cheapening the power of a good ol' fashion cry in the privacy of one's home, as long as the emotions behind it are real. People who fake cry and who fake grieve have other issues to worry about; the rest of us, I think, are safe to shed a few tears whenever it's really necessary.

Crying: Is This The End Of The Stiff Upper Lip [TimesOnline]

[Image via Natalie Dee.]