Opinion is divided as to whether it was Gazza the footballer or the late Princess Diana who turned a nation of stiff upper lips into today's nation of quivering-lipped cry babies with all the backbone of a jellyfish.
As one who has applied to appear on some of the higher end reality shows, of the life or career transforming genre, I found it noticeable how I typically had to fill out a ten page personality questionaire as a part of the interview process with endless elements trying to ascertain by various means how emotional I was and what made me cry and, in particular, how often.
Needless to say when I confessed I didn't cry very often, any other characteristic that might have made me interesting or entertaining viewing was hastily dismissed. I came to realise TV companies are deliberately targetting the emoters, despite up to 70% of viewers now opining that they can't stand the constant crying and histrionics on TV and are beginning to turn off from such formats.
Well I am heartened to find that I am not the only one who can't take any more cringe factor on the X Factor or fake-off on the Bake-Off . As for Ruby's current antics on the Great British Bake-Off, it is nothing short of disgusting that she is turning on the waterworks to get her own way, and worse, being allowed to get away with it, unimpressed as Mary Berry looks (well as a fellow female, she does know all the tricks of the trade, even if Paul Hollywood is taken in.) Someone should also tell Ruth and her fellow over-emotional cooks that it is unhygienic to snivel unabated into one's cooking. Cookery shows should make it a disqualifier if entrants don't leave the kitchen before blubbing, not forgetting to put germy hankies away and wash their hands again before returning. Ditto spoon tasters who return said spoon to saucepan after putting it in their mouth. And while we're on the subject, where are their hair nets? No one wants to find unwelcome ingredients in what is supposed to be competition-winning fayre.
Notwithstanding, these TV tactics are increasingly spilling over into real life. Last week for example I had a 20 year old female student in front of me weeping copiously and demanding to be released from her accommodation contract owing to the extreme damp which was making her ill. She was asthmatic she said, so it was 'dangerous' for her to remain there. I replied that the only way she could be released from her contract was to find another student with no pre-existing contracts with the university who could take over her contract. She stuck out her bottom lip. 'But how can I? It's not fit for human habitation!' she insisted. I asked her if she had reported the damp to her Hall Manager and she said that she had. I asked when they had said they would deal with it for her. She seemed vague. A male colleague affected by her tears moved to hand over the appropriate form. I stopped him, promising. 'Well you advertise your room and I will talk to your Hall Manager about getting this problem resolved. We can't have rooms with problems, whoever lives in them.' She looked unhappy, burst into further tears and left. Suspicious that a room fewer than five years old and which she had been occupying for a mere four weeks could be so damp in a Hall of Residence not previously known for that problem, I rang her Hall Manager and asked what the Maintenance team were doing about her room. She had reported no problem with her room to him. My male colleague looked stunned, but then he hadn't worked there as long as I had and seen it all. She was just another example of someone who believes that by bursting into tears or causing a huge fuss they will get their own way, never seeming to imagine that what they claim might be checked for its validity.
So not only is Britain becoming a nation of emotional incontinents, but a nation of people who use emotion as a form of manipulation, a smokescreen for untruths and even to facilitate blackmail. A friend who had fallen out of love with her needy and manipulative boyfriend tried to end it. He threatened suicide, but she insisted to him firmly but kindly that the relationship had run its course and they were obviously radically different people who would be much happier with other partners and not to be so silly. She didn't sleep for days afterwards for worry as he'd gone so far as to engrave surface nicks in his wrists with a penknife and turn up on her doorstep drunk and swathed in bandages when she'd tried to end it before, but reasoned as long as she was being bombarded with begging texts and emotive emails, he was still alive and kicking. Two weeks later, having said he couldn't live without my friend, he had found another girl. My friend was somewhat deflated by this after all his extravagant declarations, but certainly didn't cry that he'd got over her so quickly. Relief was the overriding emotion.
I fully concur with the view that we Brits were probably far too repressed in the past. But I find little authenticity in today's opposite extreme of falsely-inflated emotion and histrionics and fear it carries just as many drawbacks as the stiff upper lip, if not more, if those same individuals genuinely cannot deal with life by honest means the moment it goes even slightly wrong for them, or feel it is legitimate to resort to controlling others to get what they want through their moods. Chaotic lives and f***ed up out-of-controllers abound and are even encouraged by a surfeit of societal acceptance and, in some cases, benefits.
Where will it end? How on earth would this nation win through another world war if one were to break out? I shudder to think.
Give me an individual with spirit and backbone as well as communication and emotional honesty any day of the week. But then I do like to have my cake and eat it...