Neighbours - let's live and let live

A culture of shaming others seems to be emerging in our society ("More people taking aim at neighbours... with cameras"; Jan 8).

It started with "Stomping" by using camera phones. Then, in-vehicle cameras led to the rise of popular sites like Roads.sg.

And now this situation in our neighbourhoods.

This saddens me, as these actions could lead to police reports and litigation, contributing to divisiveness between neighbours.

If our homes and neighbourhoods are war zones, how terribly unpleasant that would be.

That said, it is not difficult to understand why people resort to such actions.

Pointing cameras, whether in public, on the roads or at neighbours, is a passive way of righting what we perceive to be wrong.

Because of our upbringing, where we are taught to be largely non-confrontational in the public realm, this approach appears to be the best option. But is it?

Admittedly, some good does come out of these non-confrontational "confrontations".

For example, in-vehicle cameras provide helpful evidence in settling insurance liabilities in road accidents.

Because of the Stomp website, I also see that people are more conscious about giving up the priority seats on our trains to those who need them more.

However, cameras pointed at each other in neighbourhoods take us to another level of surveillance.

Our neighbours are always with us, until one of us moves away. Surely, there must be a better way.

There are dissuading measures like the need to file police reports first, and the rule that the cameras can be pointed only at one's own immediate residence.

But, as the report shows, people are ignorant of the first and don't comply with the second.

If we are going to be a gracious society, it must start with us and our relationship with our immediate neighbours.

We may not like them, and befriending them may be a tall order. But at the very least, it would help to be less adversarial.

William Wan (Dr)
General Secretary
Singapore Kindness Movement

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 10, 2017, with the headline 'Neighbours - let's live and let live'. Print Edition | Subscribe