SINGAPORE - As people spend more time online, the worry is that human relations will take a hit, affecting how sensitive they are to the feelings of others, said Emeritus Senior Minister (ESM) Goh Chok Tong on Friday.
He said he has noticed that more people are now oblivious to their physical environment, citing the example of people who cross roads with their eyes fixed to their phones, and those who prefer to communicate through electronic devices rather than talk face to face.
As the internet trend will continue, he said he worries that people may lose their awareness towards the feelings of others.
Mr Goh was speaking at the launch of ImagiNation - an exhibition at *Scape created in celebration of Kindness Day SG.
"Hurling vitriol online may feel 'shiok' to the sender instantly, but the bad vibes reverberate across cyberspace and fester in hearts and minds long after," he said.
He asked if Singapore could be a nation of kindness if its people are not kind on the internet. He added that being considerate and thoughtful online perpetuates and multiples goodwill.
The effort to be gracious has to be ground up not top down, he said, and commended the Singapore Kindness Movement for its initiatives.
The movement has grown in strength over the years, with more like-minded people, groups and organisations.
Five such groups were recognised for their efforts on Friday - SGEatWithUs, The Volunteer Switchboard, Deserving Singaporeans and Participate in Design.
They were inducted into the movements Kindred Spirit Circle of which 34 other individuals, groups and organisations are already members.
Mr Goh, along with Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, and Singapore Kindness Movement's general secretary Dr William Wan, also toured the exhibition.
The two-day exhibition has five zones, each with a video of kind acts to give viewers a sense of a world where graciousness and kindness is the norm. The impact of the acts grow over the zones from individual acts of kindness to community movements.
"We hope ImagiNation opens the public's minds to the choices we can make as individuals to build a true Nation of Kindness," said Dr Wan.
The exhibition will be open to the public on Saturday and Sunday, from 11am to 10pm. Admission is free.