SINGAPORE: Youths in Singapore are aware of their roles in creating a more gracious society, but a fear of being embarrassed is holding them back from being kind.
According to the latest Graciousness Survey by the Singapore Kindness Movement released on Monday (Jun 24), about one in four respondents (23 per cent) aged 15 to 24 said that they "fear looking stupid or silly".
Their fear of embarrassment is much greater than the rest of the 1,037 respondents surveyed on the Barriers to Helping between Feb 18 to Mar 17 this year.
Those in the 55 and above age group were the least afraid of looking stupid or silly at 6 per cent, followed by those in the 35 to 44 age group (11 per cent), those aged between 25 and 34 years old (12 per cent) and those in the 45 to 54 age group (14 per cent).
This fear could be linked to social media, along with its reach and visibility, said the Singapore Kindness Movement.
One student, who gave an example of being a witness to a molestation case, said he would not hold the perpetrator down for fear of being slapped or videoed.
“If the molester punch you and the whole thing goes on video then I become a laughing stock," he said.
Singapore Kindness Movement clarified that this may not be applicable to situations that are more straightforward, such as giving way to other people.
However, the underlying fear of being mocked while doing something kind can manifest in other similar situations, such as administering help to a person in distress.
This stems from the fear that they could be left looking like a fool if things fail and not go the way as planned, said Singapore Kindness Movement.
OLDER PEOPLE CONCERNED ABOUT THEIR ABILITY TO HELP
The survey also found that older folks are more concerned about their ability to help effectively.
Thirty-five per cent of respondents over the age of 55 said that a barrier for them helping is the feeling that they do not have the capability to do so. This compares with an average of 28 per cent for all respondents.
General Secretary of the Singapore Kindness Movement, Dr William Wan, said that the findings allow people from the different age groups to be “more reflective”.
“I think it is through reflection that we can hopefully encourage people not to be afraid to be mocked,” said Dr Wan.
“Why should I be ashamed if I’m doing something good?
"If people do not respond to me when I'm doing something good, that's not my problem. That may be their problem," he added.
To help people overcome their fear of being mocked, Singapore Kindness Movement will continue to build on its Be Greater campaign, which was launched in July last year.
The campaign features people sharing their experiences on their acts of kindness in various situations. Dr Wan hopes that this can prompt people to be proactively kind without “worrying about how people will react to you".
When asked about how he feels about the constant need for campaigns to remind Singaporeans to be gracious, Dr Wan said that this is not specific to Singapore, citing the 56-year-old Small Kindness Movement in Japan.
“We all need a little bit of nudging, it’s not a bad thing,” added Dr Wan.
“If we don’t have innate kindness in us, then all our campaigns will be useless.”
In response to queries whether Singapore has a long way to go in becoming a gracious society, Dr Wan said: "We are always arriving but never arrived. Even Japan hasn't arrived, we think they have arrived (but) they haven't arrived."
The annual Graciousness Survey, first released in 2008, provides behavioural insights and indicators on graciousness and kindness in Singapore, leading to targeted initiatives that aim to make Singapore a nicer, more pleasant place to live in, said Singapore Kindness Movement.
Other findings in the survey show that the overall state of graciousness and kindness has improved in Singapore, with the biggest improvements in "considerate behaviours".
In a total sample size of 2,071 respondents, people rated 6.79 for “not having a sense of entitlement", 7.45 for "greeting each other in close proximity" and 6.46 for "keeping food areas clean after meals in public spaces”. This compares with 5.98, 6.66 and 5.70, respectively, in last year's findings.