Dear Science, Do We Cry More on Planes?
There's something about being thousands of feet in the air and my emotions getting the better of me.
It first begins with pre-flight jitters. Sure, I'm a bit of a nervous flyer. I worry that I'm actually a cast member of Lost but I'm the one that doesn't get any lines and gets sucked out of the plane as soon as shit goes down.
Yeah, that's right, I'm the poor sucker in the gif over there...
Once I'm settled in my set, set up with my blanket, shoes off, thick socks and noise cancelling headphones, I get another rush of melancholy.
And then, while flicking through the dozens of movies to chose from, for some reason I always end up watching the saddest movie possible. Or is it all in my head?
I always thought my mid-flight heightened emotional state was something that only happened to me. I narrowed it down to either, a) my movie choices, b) too much time in my own head, or c) watching too much late night Air Crash Investigation. But it turns out, crying on planes is actually a thing!
Now, there hasn't been any proper studies into the phenomenon (like, why would they bother?), but it has been considered. And there are a few theories floating around the interwebs.
These are my favourites:
Brett Martin of This American Life argues that air travel turns us into babies. "You’re strapped in, given a blanket, a sippy cup, and tiny silverware, forced to do what you’re told and borne away at speeds we can’t conceive, without seeing where we’re going".
Well, you've got a damn good point there Brett. Now will someone please rock me to sleep already!
American journalist Elijah Wolfson says crying is a way for our bodies to cope with the stress of it all. And it's argued after the long, painful check-in process and having to wait around for a plane to board, before being herded into a tin can incomprehensible feet in the air, forced to share space and air with complete strangers, we could have a bit of pent up stress.
Another very good point. This could also explain why I've witnessed a grown man punch a perfect stranger in the face mid-flight.
So, next time you're in the air, trying really hard to suppress those tears, or (let's be honest) letting them explode out of you as your proclaim to the stranger sitting next you, 'I'm sorry, are you going to use that napkin? I'm sorry, I never cry in movies, but will Elle Woods ever pass her Law exams?", maybe it's not you.
Do you find you cry easily on planes? How's your emotional state those thousands of feet in the air?