Be wary of modern shame culture

The article "The shame culture" (March 16) is a very insightful article which highlights the development of a modern shame culture.

In such a culture, moral judgments are prevalent. However, they are not based on universal moral principles. Rather, inclusion or exclusion is based on whether one agrees or disagrees with the "norms".

Individuals become very careful with their words, for fear that they may transgress the norm of the group. Those accused of wrong thoughts or differing views must be prepared to face ruinous consequences.

The desire to be praised, accepted and included is very strong; the fear and anxiety of being rejected, ostracised and excluded is also intense.

Talk of right and wrong is accompanied by indifference to the experience of shame that accompanies the judgment of immorality.

The modern shame culture may claim to be inclusive and tolerant; but it can be very vicious in its reactions in social media, and it can be very unmerciful to those who do not fit in.

We see this development not only overseas but also locally.

It is not a positive development; it can lead to the hijacking of universal moral values, and individuals may be afraid to speak up because of the fear of being ostracised or ridiculed.

What determines the outcome is no longer based on moral principles and what is helpful for society; rather, it is the need to be agreeable without being excluded or "exiled".

We have seen various individuals manipulating social media with half-lies to bring in advertising income, and the public can easily be moved to go along with the crowd in order to appear broad-minded and in line with the times.

We must be wary of such a development, otherwise we can be swept along by the shifting judgment of the crowd rather than have our feet anchored on what constitutes universal moral values which society can adhere to and agree upon for the wholesome and ultimate good of the community.

Quek Koh Choon (Dr)