In the middle of September, an intriguing new service appeared on the internet: Man Tears.
Its goal: Make men cry more.
Users can create a profile and set “crying goals” for the month — from 20–120 minutes. Then Man Tears helps people meet the goal by offering a range of videos in notable tearjerking genres like “perfectly crafted business deals that fell through the cracks at the last moment,” “family dogs being put down” and “Thai commercials about living simply and kindly” to get the waterworks going on demand.
But that’s just at the “Normal” level of cry sesh — for the truly tear-motivated, Man Tears offers a “Power Cry” video option, which, inexplicably, just shows a clip of Jessica Alba reviewing the results of a DNA test showing that she has predominantly European heritage on the talk show Lopez Tonight.
After each viewing, the site asks you to track your lachrymosity level using a range of emoji, from “confused face” to full-blown “loudly crying face,” and logs your progress in your profile.
Despite its goal of producing greater emotional openness in the male portion of the population, Man Tears itself is a little opaque. Is it just a joke? Is it a little bit serious? Does whoever is thirsting for dude drops really think that the Jessica Alba clip is sad enough to make a human being cry?
Patricia Becus, the Brooklyn-based writer and creator of Man Tears, agreed to clear up some of the confusion.
Where did the idea for Man Tears come from?
In the very beginning, I had an idea for an app that would organize your divorce.
How did that turn into something about making men cry?
I’m originally from Romania, from a very small town called Lipova, and someone in my extended family was getting a divorce recently, which was really shocking.
I thought it was really mind-blowing and hilarious from a logistics point of view, because one of the partners actually left the home with a bunch of animals, like pigs and rabbits and hens, and the firewood, and hundreds of jars of pickles and jams and compotes, and I was like oh my god, that’s a lot of logistics.
So then I was thinking about this, and it’s like, at least 50 percent of marriages end up in divorce, why is there no app that helps people organize their divorce? The market for wedding apps is huge!
That’s a good point!
I started designing the app, and I created an option to cry. Because I was thinking, sometimes people go through the divorce without crying, and they forget to cry, and then they have a lot of negative emotions. So if you have an app, use it.
But then I thought, maybe people don’t want to cry too much, and don’t want it to mess up their professional life — they need to cry in an organized fashion.
So, inspired by a blog post I read about how some married couples actually put sex on their calendars, because they’re too busy with kids, and everything, I took the idea of a schedule to cry, and ditched the rest of the divorce app idea.
When did you focus on making men cry, in particular?
At first I wanted to have an app where you schedule your cry, and at the end you can select what kind of videos to receive to stop crying. So 15 minutes, then a video of a kitten to stop.
But then I changed it almost immediately, when I sat down and looked at the stats on how much men are crying. The next morning, I had the Man Tears idea, and decided I would treat it like a health app, almost like a workout app.
How did this idea become a reality?
The project was developed during a weekend-long hackathon, hosted by a group called Cultivated Wit — it’s a hackathon that pokes fun at tech.
So like at any hackathon, you line up to take the mic and pitch the idea, then people decide whether they want to work with you or not. Out of 90-something ideas pitched, 22 were actually executed, and two teams wanted to work with me. Then we had two days, or really a day and a half, to build it.
Is it meant as a high-concept joke? It seems like you think men actually should cry more.
There’s a category of ideas at these hackathons that are about solving non-issues to try to highlight real problems, like someone came up with an app to sell excess privilege on a marketplace.
So Man Tears is solving a non-issue — men aren’t actually petitioning to be able to cry more — but you can actually make the case that men don’t cry enough, and that society as a whole might benefit if men would cry more.
How would society benefit if men cried more?
There’s a statistic out there that women aren’t going to achieve income equality for 136 years, at the current rate, so I was also thinking sure, women can change, but it’ll never be enough.
So what if men could change? And what is the change they would have to undergo to affect their empathy levels? Crying seems like a good first step.
How did you come up with the video categories?
I came up with the family dogs and the business deals, and then my teammates helped me add the military returning home, the Eternal Sunshine clips — I asked what movies made them cry — and the Thai commercials.
What’s the deal with the Power Cry?
It came from the idea that men always want to do more, like when I go to the gym for example, I usually don’t go in the weight room but I do see the competitiveness, so I wanted to introduce a level of that. At first I thought “fast cry,” but no: this could be a Power Cry, because men are all so busy being CEOs and doing all of the important things in the world.
But why the Jessica Alba video?
So I had selected most of the videos the morning before, and actually cried a lot while picking them, but on Sunday morning I woke up at 7 and we still didn’t have one for the Power Cry. At first, someone on my team picked a short video of puppies and the military, but 10 minutes before we had to present the finished product, I actually looked at that video, and it was too long.
So I started looking on YouTube — my brain was tired at this point — and I saw this video of Jessica Alba and thought OMG, men may be sad to learn she is not actually [indigenous] Mexican… . We all laughed, but like I said, we were very tired.
Since then, I’ve been thinking of replacing it with a video of someone spilling milk over stuff that men love, like technology.
Are you going to pursue the Man Tears project further?
Yeah, I stayed in touch with a bunch of really great women that I met through the hackathon, and I’m scheduling a regroup to for us to think about where it goes next.
I think right now one of the main problems of this app or idea is the fact that it sits between this serious issue and this non-issue, so the first thing that we have to do is settle on an approach that’s going to work as a funny approach to a thing that’s kind of real.
Do you think it could change the world?
I’m trying to channel a Silicon Valley CEO, here: I mentioned that it’s projected to take 136 years for women to achieve income equality. Man Tears will help close that gap in half the time.