By J. Rizer
At first, when doctors and scientists started to suggest that crying might be good for you, nobody paid that much attention. It was when articles finally started to show up in ladies’ magazines and Reader’s Digest that people started to believe it might be true.
Crying was good for you, they had found out. Every tear you cried, like every step you took during the day, contained immeasurable health benefits.
Of course, the first thing was the rush to create a piece of wearable tech that measured every tear a person cried. It seemed like it couldn’t be done because most of the devices involved something like a contact lens that had to be inserted into your actual eye, and people didn’t like that. Eventually, someone came up with a device that sat further down your cheek and measured the tears as they fell. It wasn’t perfect, of course, because not every tear followed the same facial trajectory, but it did give a pretty good estimate of how many tears you cried while you were wearing it. The most popular version looked a lot like a monocle, only one that stuck to your face with a little piece of adhesive. There was just no way to make it unobtrusive, like a pedometer. At first, it seemed strange to see people walking around with these devices stuck to their faces, but once so many people were wearing them, it started to seem normal.
Entire radio stations devoted to making people cry sprang up overnight. Every genre had something crying-jag-inducing. One surprisingly popular crying station from out of the state of Georgia featured entirely upbeat love songs from every decade of popular song. “Why would these songs make so many people cry?” an interviewer asked the programmer. “These are happy songs.”
“Not to people who listen to them and know they’ll never be loved like that,” the station’s programmer replied.
Movie theaters dedicated whole weekends to showing old tearjerkers. Hollywood rushed to put out the saddest movies they could think of, a trend decried as cynical by many. “You can’t just rush out fifty sobfests a year and expect them all to be effective,” a prominent movie critic noted. “Making people cry has to be an organic process.”
Several new lines of makeup came out, attempting to capitalize on the new vogue for taking a deep dive into your feelings. The first and most expensive was Cry At Work—“for people who aren’t ashamed of their feelings,” the sultry model in the television commercials said, her cheeks streaked with extra-runny mascara, her dainty nose flushed with the new, clear powder that made red noses look redder once a crying fit was underway.
Some people ended up in the hospital. They had been accustomed to hiding their feelings all their lives, and once they started crying, they couldn’t stop. They cried for lost loves and lost dogs, for great tragedies and for all of the tiny things they had never been allowed to cry about before. They cried over injustice and they cried over all the years they had spent not allowing themselves to cry. They cried until they were dehydrated and suffering from awful headaches. Usually, a sedative and some fluids would put them right, but it was still an alarming trend.
Women, accustomed to having everyone, even other women, dismiss their tears as an obviously insincere tactical maneuver, seized the moment. Now, instead of being labeled hysterical or manipulative, they could announce with tremulous dignity when they felt the tears gathering at the back of their eyes, “I’m going to cry now, and in fact, I think it would do us all a lot of good if we took a five-minute cry break.”
Disgraced public figures did not reap the same benefits, of course. People still shrugged disdainfully at their tearful, repentant speeches and said, “I don’t think he’s even really sorry. He just wanted to get his tears in for the day.”
This was because it was easier to laugh at someone’s tears when they weren’t right there in front of you. That was one thing that had not changed.