If you think crying is a sign of weakness, think again. A graduate in the Netherlands has invented a gun that collects tears, freezes them, and turns them into bullets to shoot out at all who oppose you. This idea didn’t just materialize out of thin air, it was based on an embarrassing experience in her life.
Yi-Fei Chen is a designer who was raised in Taiwan, who studied in the Netherlands where culturally, there are some significant differences. For instance, in the Netherlands, it’s a lot more socially acceptable to disagree and to stand up to your tutors than where she is from, because in Taiwan she was taught to avoid altercations with authority figures and to be more timid.
When one of her tutors set an unreasonable deadline for a project, and she wasn’t able to meet it, she was drawn to tears after being called out for missing the deadline. She had to turn her back to everyone else in the class, because she didn’t want people to see her crying. It must have been a traumatizing experience for someone who is used to being much more timid in the face of authority figures, as opposed to her peers who may have been more comfortable in that situation.
The inventor of this gun describes her experience:
“I was too emotional to control myself, I could not hold my tears so I cried,” she said in an interview with the website Dezeen. “I turned my back to the others, because I did not want people to see me crying.”
She goes on to discuss some of the struggles she was feeling, that lead to the inspiration for this unique ‘weapon’:
“The difficulties living as a foreigner in another country lead to high pressures in the study environment,” she revealed. “Those pressures had been building for 18 months before finally reaching a crisis point during one of my midterm presentations.”
This experience lead her to design a gun that collects your tears as they fall from your eyes inside a small bottle. Next, the tears are frozen into small icicles before finally being fired from the gun.
This artistic video shows the tear gun in action:
As you can imagine, the internet has had some pretty hilarious reactions to this, which we’ll get to in a moment, but first let’s talk about how Yi-Fei Chen was able to get her redemption over the instructor who made her cry.
When it was time for her graduation ceremony from the class, she was allowed to test out her gun on the instructor. Now, obviously, a little piece of ice shooting out of a homemade gun didn’t do any serious damage, it’s more about the art than having an effective weapon, but it still must have felt cathartic to have the chance to test it out against someone who inadvertently helped inspire it in the first place.
Here are some of the reactions:
She displayed the gun at Dutch Design Week and has gotten a lot of attention for this interesting and thought-provoking idea. You can take something that is perceived as a weakness, and turn it into a strength, not just in the literal sense with this gun, but in a more metaphorical sense, too.
Here’s the description from the Vimeo page by filmmaker Yen-An Chen:
“Her upbringing in Taiwan has instilled Yi-Fei Chen with a deep respect for authority. Disagreeing with your teachers is considered rude, and rudeness must be suppressed. Coming to the Netherlands for a master’s degree was a shock to her system. Within Western higher education, students are taught to question authority and expected to take a critical attitude. For many students like Chen it can be a confusing and emotional journey to adapt to such a new set of circumstances. The pressure they feel to step outside their own comfort zone may even cause drastic responses.
Chen has visualised her personal struggle to toughen up and speak her mind with a striking metaphor: she has frozen the tears she shed during an incident where she had to speak up but couldn’t, and built a gun to fire them. Next time a teacher puts her on the spot, she will be ready to respond with equal force.”