Don't shame online, right the wrong instead

Public shaming is hot topic with new kindness campaign and ruckus over wedding photos


A man is fast asleep in a reserved seat on a crowded train.

Next to him, a pregnant commuter has one hand on her baby bump, and another holding the metal rail tightly. Would you try to right the situation by waking the man, or resort to taking a photo to shame him online?

That is the question posed by the Singapore Kindness Movement in their latest campaign to highlight the issue of public shaming.

The ubiquity of smartphones with cutting-edge cameras has resulted in a barrage of negative posts of antisocial behaviour.

Facebook user Lin Tianyun shared this poster from the Singapore Kindness Movement as she disliked the act of shaming healthy-looking passengers occupying priority seats. Her post on asking for a seat instead of shaming the passenger attracted about 7,000 likes, comments and shares. PHOTO: LIN TIANYUN/FACEBOOK

These days, woe betide any man or woman who dares to cut a queue, belch in public, shout too loudly, drive badly or be overly passionate with their partner in public.

The posters put out by the non-profit organisation have struck a chord with many.

Facebook user Lin Tianyun, for instance, shared it because she disliked the act of shaming healthy-looking passengers occupying priority seats.

"I think it is a passive and cowardly action that serves no purpose," she said. "Asking for a seat is a better action."

Her post attracted about 7,000 likes, comments and shares.

"The guy could be unwell," said one user. "Nobody is able to tell if the pregnant lady deserves the seat more than him."

Another said: "Being trigger-happy with the camera is just as bad as not giving up a seat to those in need."

Fried Hokkien prawn noodle seller Chia Soon Kia’s story is part of a Tiger Beer campaign to preserve local street food culture. PHOTO: TIGER BEER SINGAPORE

Public shaming was brought into sharp focus last week when the wedding photos of a couple went viral for their "poor quality".

The album, put up by education executive Jaclyn Ying, was shared more than 20,000 times.

Although Ms Ying did not name the photographer, many netizens were doing their best to ferret out his identity.

Eventually, the photographer responded with a public apology on Facebook, a move which won him a small number of fans.

The bridal studio which employed him was also identified later.

Ms Ying and her husband have been criticised for the way they handled the situation.

Kobe Bryant’s last game generated over 4.2 million messages on Twitter, with
the top tweet being a short, poignant one from Nike. PHOTO: NIKE/TWITTER

And despite the couple's well-meaning intentions, the events would likely have a negative impact on the studio and the photographer.

Perhaps things might have turned out very differently if everyone, including those heaping criticisms and gleefully arguing with others online, were just a little kinder.


Netizens got a closer look at the lives of three hawkers this month, thanks to three videos widely circulated via social media.

Fried Hokkien prawn noodle seller Chia Soon Kia, for instance, wakes up at 4.30am on most days to prepare his ingredients.

With expert hands, the 73-year-old stalwart in ABC Brickworks Food Centre slices squid, boils soup and peels prawns with ease.

Mr Chia has been selling noodles since he was a teenager.

"It's like starring in a film. Every day the same role, over and over again," he said with a smile.

"The more customers I have, the more 'awake' I become. Sitting around makes me bored."

Mr Chia's story is part of a campaign launched by Tiger Beer to preserve local street food culture and "to remind Singaporeans that Singapore may one day lose its rich hawker heritage if the next generation of hawkers do not step up to continue the trade", it said in a press release.

The videos have been viewed more than 1.1 million times, and garnered over 22,500 likes, comments and shares.


    #BLACKMAMBA: LA Lakers star Kobe Bryant went out with a bang. He scored 60 points in his final game, and generated more than 4.2 million messages on Twitter. The top tweet came from long-time sponsor Nike with a simple, poignant message, "Mamba out".

    #DOYOUKNOWWHOIAM: Television star Rui En's remarks to the owner of the motorcycle she damaged went viral, spawning several parodies and memes.

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    The hashtag started trending after a video showing 15 of the girls surfaced.

Famed char kway teow seller Ng Chin Chye stars in the second clip.

The 64-year-old can be seen pottering around his stall in Hong Lim Food Centre at 3am, just to ensure his customers get the best when he starts selling his dish at 6am. The waiting time can be as long as an hour.

Mr Ng, who said he will work for as long as he is able to, lamented that his son does not intend to take over the stall.

The last video, however, offers a glimmer of hope.

It features third-generation popiah skin maker Michael Ker who has spent many years perfecting his craft.

"If nobody continues the trade, it would be a let-down to my grandfather and my father," he said.

The videos have sparked a discussion about the viability of being a street food vendor in Singapore.

Many diets were also seemingly ruined, as people pledged to support the local hawker scene by eating out more.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 17, 2016, with the headline 'Don't shame online, right the wrong instead'. Print Edition | Subscribe