Online communities the new kampungs?

I applaud the Singapore Kindness Movement for commissioning the recent Graciousness Survey (Singaporeans prefer privacy to mingling with neighbours: Poll; June 28).

It is with nostalgia that I recall the kampung spirit, which describes the days when neighbours knew one another and were ready to give help when needed.

However, kampung life has changed dramatically, as high-rise housing replaced villages. Today, over 80 per cent of Singaporeans live in Housing Board flats.

Aggravating this situation is the design of modern condominiums, which give units private lift access. As a result, we may not see our neighbours at all.

For today's generation, a neighbourhood is no longer just a physical location.Their community is much larger; it is the whole online community. Their sphere of influence goes far beyond brick and mortar.

We should ask ourselves whether the advent of technology has disrupted how we define a community or kampung spirit.

We should also ask how online platforms can support bonding and help neighbours to interact.

Tan Kok Heng (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 01, 2017, with the headline 'Online communities the new kampungs?'. Print Edition | Subscribe