When did everyone become such cry-babies, asks Sheila Hancock in Prospect. Growing up in the 1940s, “being brave meant hiding your tears”. We kept that stiff upper lip through “bombing, separation, threat of invasion, hunger and death”. The only time I saw my mother cry was when Neville Chamberlain announced that Britain was at war – and that was the second war of her lifetime, “so the tears were understandable”. But now? Crying has become a “badge of honour”. Of course, it’s good that we are less inhibited than we once were. But if emotion is something “demanded of us”, it becomes “hollow and meaningless”.
Millennials and Gen Zs will “shake their heads at this”, says Celia Walden in The Daily Telegraph. But the crying stuff really has gone too far. Students openly weep in front of teachers and university tutors; staff “blub and snivel right there on the office floor” rather than retreating to the privacy of the loos. When I was at the pub with a friend, she spent half the evening on the phone to a tearful employee who’d had a “traumatic” break-up. Celebs are at it too, of course: from “Strictly Come Bawling”, to Matt Hancock on I’m A Celebrity, to Meghan’s “suspiciously pretty” snivelling on Netflix. That’s the beauty of tears – “they can sell whatever it is you’re flogging”, because we live in “an emotional buyer’s market”.