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Has Graciousness in Singapore’s Society Gone Down the Drain?

Read time: 5 min.

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This is a controversial topic. We shall discuss how Singapore has progressed as a society where graciousness has been diminishing slowly over time. Our theory is broken down into a combination of factors which we will list below.

Disclaimer: Viewpoints stated in this article are only that of the writer. The purpose of this article is to invoke thoughts and reflections for individual readers. It does not represent the views of any organisation or social group in Singapore.

Singapore has progressed at an impressive pace with rampant globalisation. The country is now contending with other countries such as the United States and China. We can proudly say that our country is packaged extremely well. How about things beyond the surface?

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Missing out the simplest of things – Thank you, Sorry etc.

When was the last time you said “Thank You” to someone who held the lift for you? Did you apologise when you accidentally bumped into someone? Did you acknowledge an apology or a thank you by saying “You’re welcome”?

These seem to be things we learn as a child but no longer practice it as we grow up. 

Related: 3 Ways To “Get Rid” of Your Stuff Before Chinese New Year

Fast pace living, lifestyle destroyed?

Singapore Night Photo

Those who have been overseas can agree that the pace of life in Singapore is no doubt one of the fastest. We are literally on the fast track in life; the way we work, eat, walk and carry out tasks. It is as if 24 hours is never enough for us.

What implications does this have on our society? We miss out on the small details in life: the importance of being considerate and polite to others. Each one of us is caught up in our own worlds. When was the last time you stopped to observe the crowd in a shopping centre? We are a colony of ants. 


The younger generations (strawberry, durian generation) nowadays lack nurturing of good values by their parents. This may seem offensive but read on and you will understand why. Some parents work endlessly to bring food home and to pay the bills. After a long day at work, many simply do not spend enough time with their children. Because of this, there is no longer someone around to teach the younger generations between good and bad, or how to behave. It doesn’t matter whether parents are well nurtured themselves if they are unable to give their children “lessons” on moral education.

Have you seen the video of a young couple fighting with an elderly man for seats?

Related: 15 Awkward Behaviors of Commuters on Public Transport

The “Kiasu” attitude

Well, most people here are not helpful and do not want to lose out. Be it losing a table in the Kopitiam, missing the lift or even losing out to friends. The “Kiasu” attitude is a nicer way to describe our selfish society. 

Kindness begets kindness, not true here

Heard of the phrase? Chinese saying “好人有好报”. Apparently, Singaporeans do not believe in this saying. In fact, kindness has been taken for granted all the time. One great example is the reserved seats in the MRT. In the distant past, commuters used to voluntarily give up their seats to the elderly, pregnant ladies or even kids when they see them. 

However, after some time, SMRT had to even mark the corner seats differently to make it “obvious” enough that seats should be given up. Even so, people continue to choose not to give up their seats, or have to be asked to do so. 

Social “vigilante” website STOMP was then created and the topic of reserved seats has been their main discussion point ever since. Some netizens began to flame those who sit on them, even if there were other seats available. These quirky and unique individuals who find joy in gaining virtual assurance from other netizens have made the seat more of a “crime” to sit in.

Related: Playing with fire: Singapore’s take on Fire Safety

Subsequently, trending videos of middle-aged aunties demanding for seats were also posted online. Ever since these issues arise, giving up your seat has lost its value. We have all missed the point where commuters give up their seat as a gesture of goodwill, not because they are expected to or just afraid of getting stomped.

Technology has taken over

Pile of Phones and Tablets

We are glued to our phones instead of spending time interacting with others. Most of us find comfort with using the phone as a form of escape, including awkward situations. 

It is important to know that being popular online or getting yourself featured in a few videos do not necessarily equate to an outgoing and approachable personality. Recently, a comment from a video uploaded by food review blog “Damn Worth It” allegedly revealed that a presenter in their food review videos was a lot less friendly in real life.

“Fat Ah Beng” was actually referring to one of the presenters featured in the video. Talk about graciousness, look at these comments as well. 

Too many different cultures

Do you know some cultures view people at different levels based on their financial background and view less financial capable people as lower class citizens than themselves? Do you know that some cultures behave in a way that is greatly misunderstood? For example, some people like to squeeze into trains or buses because they simply cannot get into one due to over-population back at their home countries.

Related: What Uber and Grab do not Want You to Know – A Deeper Insight to the Private Hire Industry

With the growing diversity of cultures in Singapore, it is very easy to be misunderstood by your actions which sometimes generate a lot of unhappiness. Is it worth it then, to be the good guy since nice guys finish last? Will graciousness prevail? 

The feeling that nothing is appreciated

Your recent act of graciousness, kindness and understanding might not seem to be appreciated by the receiving end. Sometimes to the extent you decide it is enough, you shall not be the nice guy anymore. 

Let us tell you a SECRET

IT IS NOT ALL IN VAIN. If you have been nice to strangers, gracious and considerate, let us assure you that your actions have been appreciated. Although you may not feel it, there is something called “Pay it Forward”. It is a theory that when a person receives or observe an act of help, they become more likely to help others, even if that action may not be reciprocated or rewarded.

We certainly hope to see some graciousness in this country we live in!

We urge you to share this article with your friends, spread the love. The next time you step out of the house, be a nicer person. Be the better man, better woman. We tried, and we loved it.

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