Ever Seen A Website That Can Make You Cry?

Oh bollocks.

My last post has stirred up a bit of comment and debate. I thought it might. I tried to be as clear as I could in setting it out. So as not to create yet another us vs them debate. It feels like I failed.

I was trying to suggest that there are opportunities to DO connections and collaboration, not just TELL METAPHORICAL STORIES about them. Maybe I should simply have said that, and ended the post there.

In the comments David re-quoted the old favourite: ‘what was the last website that made you cry?’.

It’s not about websites making you cry.

If you want to be reductionist about it a website is ‘just’ a container. You can put whatever you want into it. If you want your website can be a massive high-budget emotionally-harrowing tear-inducing film in full-HD quality and surround sound. You can put words in it. You can put amazing music in it. You can put an interaction that changes your view of the world in it.

If you’ve not seen a website that makes you cry it just means people haven’t been putting the right stuff in websites. It’s not the fault of websites. The pipes are totally neutral when it comes to emotion.

I’m not going to make a bit of film content that’s going to make you cry. I can’t make films. I don’t know how to do it. The people who made the ads my original posts know how to make films. That much is clear. So it’s not my fault there’s no crying-making websites on the internet (if, controversially, you think there aren’t).

I blame the people who make stuff that can make you cry for not putting it on the web where you can see it.

Or maybe, if you want a website to make you cry, you should go and look for one? Maybe it’s your fault for not looking hard enough? Or Google’s fault for not indexing them properly when you search for ‘websites to make me cry’?

Unless of course there’s something fundamental in the nature of screens that means that they can’t convey emotion unless they’re connected to a TV signal or a DVD player. In which case I take back everything I’ve just said. And I totally blame the Internet (and computers) for being emotionally void.

There’s other answers to ‘websites that make you cry’ question too. But I don’t think anyone’s suggesting that personal messages can’t be emotionally rich, or devastating. I’m supposing that the commenter was referring to what brands can do to convey emotion / make you cry.

To state the bleeding obvious. It’s not about Film VS the Internet, it’s about Film AND the Internet. And getting on top of at the amazing opportunities that we have to tell stories AND create experiences that get people involved in a deeper way.

Amen brothers and sisters. Let’s collaborate and share, to make people cry online. Together.

20 thoughts on “Ever Seen A Website That Can Make You Cry?”

  1. As Mike Skinner once ‘spat’ ‘I whole-heartedly agree with your viewpoint’.

    I think a good example of how the film aspect so often falls short of meeting the ONLINE potential was Baz Luhrmann’s recent adverts for Australia. I’m not a fan of Mr Luhrmann myself, but these ads were well shot, they had a narrative, a start, a middle and an end, or in these cases; an end, a middle and a start.
    For all those bleeding hearts out there that related to the story in the film perhaps there were a few that cried, but perhaps more out of nostalgic endearment than a true emotional response to the film; but that in itself would be a tick in the box to the production.
    What struck me was that this wasn’t then swiftly and consecutively followed by an equally arousing ONLINE representation of nostalgic fluff that encouraged people to express the relative stories; share their experience of having travelled to Australia and to share themselves ‘completely’ with others in order to encourage others to do so. Or something like that.
    No, instead, what followed was this: http://www.australia.com/index.aspx with a ‘click here to see the campaign’ – ingenious use of the technology. Chances are that people hitting that site would have already seen the high-production adverts; hence their reason for being there.
    Just a thought… and certainly no tears.

  2. I think there must be loads of people crying about stuff they see on the web.
    Because they aren’t doing it to “advertising content” is really about how s**t ad content is.
    Ads dumb down to achieve broad appeal were as The most interesting (funny, disturbing, terrifying, engaging, wtf-ing) and potentially tearjerking stuff on the web happens at the fringes in closely connected niche communities (weirdos) who the web to creating and celebrating their own culture (4-chan?).
    Until the people who pay for ads are confident enough in themselves to join these communities and really get involved they’ll continue to do “net-lite” content but that will change. The web can be really personal and it will continue to get more so taking brands with it and as it does it’s more likely to make you cry more often…
    I think….
    Apologies for the grammar.

  3. I often feel that we (in the ‘industry’) are sometimes guilty of constantly trying to be too forward thinking and with that comes the pressure or challenge of trying to achieve what is the next, best platform of communication. When the reality is that ‘people’ out there are probably several steps behind. Are we guilty of trying to ju,p too far and actually alienated them and ourselves.
    It’s too late. I think I’m officially talking nonsense. This quote comes close to expressing what I mean:

    ‘Our business is infested with idiots who try to impress by using pretentious jargon.’
    – David Ogilvy

  4. From this day forward, I intend to devote my life to creating a website with the single dedicated purpose of making the average human cry. It may be hard, it may be impossible, but the Lord knows it will be worth it if we can pull it off. Who’s in it with me?

    What ad has ever made anyone cry? Except donkey sanctuary ads, because they have such sad eyes.

  5. Matt – I’m in. Do you have any Donkeys near where you live? I think a site with loads of close ups of Donkey eyes and really sad music would work. Perhaps with a narrator telling stories about their Donkey mums dying in really sad and tragic ways.

    donkeytears.com is available ;-)

  6. It feels like we’re all trying to run before we can walk.

    I can’t speak from any great point of knowledge but i suspect that in the early years of cinema there were few films that made people cry. After the initial novelty of it passed people began to understand the power of the medium and exploit it. And I’d go a step further and suggest it was only film makers who had grown up in a world of films that understood the format implicitly and we are to communicate through it.

    I also doubt that the infancy of books yielded any great tear jerkers (i’m talking way back at the beginning). So maybe its just a matter of time, maybe it’ll have to wait for the first generation of Internet Babies to truly take hold of the medium and run with it.

    It’s not our fault, we’re just early adopters.

    p.s. in the meantime i’ll chuck a couple of quid into the DonkeyTears.com

  7. I lost sleep over this last night.

    There seems to be something wrong about using community, sharing, unique-experience metaphors then sticking a logo at the end of it.

    If you’re already in a unique-experience-sharing-community, then I suspect an advert reflecting a warped vision of that community to sell you something, isn’t going to resonate very well with you.

    I’d also wager a lot of these experiential concepts go straight over a large majority of people heads. (The T-mobile spot works best when it’s contextualised and you’re already aware what a flashmobs is.)

    As a brand if you really want to tell stories and create experiences you have to be involved at base level in a honest manner that promotes and supports. Sponsor grass root events (T-mobile hardware hackday?); be involved in product communities (Nikon sponsored Flickr meet-ups?) then you can genuinely tell stories and build communities for people that are interested.

    But brands don’t want to be involved with complex, strange, timely and frankly sometimes weird niches. It’s much easier to appropriate the idea, smash it’s round pegged’ness into the square hole with the money hammer for a 30 sec spot to flog more units to the joe public (by the summer they’ll all be promotional led anyway.)

    As for having ever seen a website that can make you cry, conversely I don’t think I’ve ever had that response to an advert either (although the T-Mobile ad made me feel warm and fuzzy for a second, then I hated it even more.)

  8. What’s this whole thing about crying anyways..? In general advertising and marketing (TV, print, web, anything) of all kinds go for warm, happy, fuzzy, feelings. Some of the hardcore charities (And Benetton at the time) go for shock. But sadness and crying, I’ve not really come across very often…

    I’d be up for participating in donkeytears.com!

    There could also be some kind of clever and very sad/tragic visual copy or voice over with the numbers mistreated or malnourished dounkeys around the world and how nobody takes a stand for them.

  9. I’ll bet there is a community out there who want nothing better than to she a few tears, find them and what they have in common and I’ll bet it’s quite easy.

    Nike’s “Take it to the next level” almost make me cry, as one of the many who has imagined what it must be like to score a wonder-goal in-front of an adoring audience of millions and thought it would never happen for me. Haven’t felt like that since Powell brought out Public Domain.

  10. You are all in danger of manipulating tears out of unwilling ducts.

  11. This was the last website that made me cry – http://www.dayswithmyfather.com/

    The photography and the narrative send you on a emotional a rollercoster ride with genuinely warm funny images, followed by some that really capture the fear and anguish of his father.

    See if it has a similar effect on you…

  12. Donkey Tears is an excellent suggestion. A 42 year old donkey recently died in my home state. Let’s make his life one not lived in vain. Google Ads for Donkey charities could be on the page, so its not all frivolous donkey-related tear duct milking for donkey tear duct milking’s sake.

  13. The website cry thing is well fucking stoopid.

    Try reading the news about kids getting bombed in some random war or other. Or if you want a more marketing view pop over to Post Secret. I bet that can make most of you cry.

    I’m in for the donkeys though. Let’s have it so that when the homepage loads up the laptop gets evener hotter and frys your balls. That would make you cry.

  14. I haven’t cried over a website but I’ve laughed my ass off at heaps. I’ve laughed more at the web than all the recent films combined.

    Never laughed or cried at an art gallery either. Just a few ohhh and ahhhs from me.

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