Singapore group conducts social experiment on how privilege affects standing in society

Social enterprise Unsaid conducted an experiment showing how factors such as gender, race and economic background can affect a person's standing in society.
Social enterprise Unsaid conducted an experiment showing how factors such as gender, race and economic background can affect a person's standing in society.PHOTO: UNSAID/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - Not everyone starts on an equal footing in society, as 16 young Singaporeans find out in a social experiment that has been making its rounds on Facebook.

Conducted by social enterprise Unsaid, the experiment shows how factors such as gender, race and economic background can affect a person's standing in society - even in Singapore.

The video, which was released on National Day, has more than 160,000 views and been shared more than 3,700 times.

In the experiment, participants took either a step forward or back in response to each of the 35 questions set by the organisers. The final position of each participant represents how far ahead - or behind - each person is, based on how privileged or disadvantaged he or she is.

The purpose of the experiment is to show that not everyone has equal access to opportunities, said Unsaid's executive director Timothy Seet.

"We all work hard in this meritocratic society, but some people have to work even harder to achieve the same things," said Mr Seet, 23, who is an undergraduate at Nanyang Technological University.

"We need to think about why there are some people who are less privileged than others, and how we can help them."

As the participant who ended up last, Ms Alisa Maya Ravindran hopes the experiment will spur more constructive discussions on the topic.

"I hope that people will not take it as a negative thing to discuss privilege," said the 22-year-old undergraduate from the National University of Singapore.

"If we can acknowledge and discuss it in a sensitive manner, then maybe we will become a more empathetic society."

Comprising five core members, Unsaid is a student-led arts and social enterprise. The group was officially formed in July.