Show more kindness, cut the public shaming

After reading the column on April 17 ("Don't shame online, right the wrong instead"), I realised that kindness is a big issue among Singaporeans.

We are not unkind. But most of us do not show compassion because we expect someone else to do the good deed.

Unlike in the West, Asian societies place importance on conformity. We tend not to speak up when alone and gain more confidence to do so in a group. This is one of the reasons we witness public shaming online.

When we see a supposedly healthy person occupying a reserved seat, we are unlikely to approach that person to ask him or her to give up the seat to another passenger who needs it more.

This is because we fear the judgment of the people around us (that is, others may think we are strange) or we just do not want to waste our efforts on something "insignificant".

Some will go online instead to share this act or incident with netizens, who will join in to shame the "guilty" party. Furthermore, some websites allow people to write in anonymously, hence, one can send in a post without fear of any backlash from netizens.

However, we should act independently of others who do nothing, and be courteous whenever possible.

For instance, we could hold the door open for others, thank the foodcourt cleaner clearing our plates, or give a smile to the waitress taking our orders.

We do not have to perform big acts to be kind; small acts of kindness count, too.

Acts such as public shaming only highlight the irony that the person doing it is also being unkind by humiliating others.

We should start striving to be a society where kindness or courtesy campaigns are no longer needed.

Regina Pang Yong Wei (Miss)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 01, 2016, with the headline 'Show more kindness, cut the public shaming'. Print Edition | Subscribe