In Singapore’s Circuit-Breaker Climate, People Are All Turning Into Assholes
An app that lets you report people for breaking social distancing rules? Sounds like something taken straight out of a novel like “1984"
Singaporeans are on the way to peak asshole-ness. We are contributing to a foundation constructed from hyper-positive community websites and Facebook posts showing how well we are coping with Singapore’s circuit-breaker measures, ignoring the darker side of this “we are all in this together” behaviour.
Not a day goes by where my Facebook Wall isn’t inundated with content encouraging people to stay home. These content either appeal to the goodness of our heart (“Our healthcare workers are doing their best for us, so let’s do our best for them. Stay home!”) or they seek to scare you into compliance (cue latest news article about more things we can’t do, all in the name of “flattening the curve”).
I have been vocal (some may say too vocal) about the circuit-breaker measures. It’s not because I “don’t get it”. I do. I get why social distancing works. I have been trying to follow, to the best of my ability, every single rule set down by the government to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
But I have also come to observed — with much disappointment — how so many people have taken to playing this crazy game of one-upmanship: putting on a daily parade on social media to show how they “get it” better than everyone else.
Even more disappointing is how eager some people are about this new app that has been built to help them report other people for breaking social distancing rules.
Has anyone stopped for a moment to think how this is really not okay?
I’ve seen comments like, “I don’t want to have to use it so everyone, please behave yourself! Don’t force me to use this app!”. People, under normal circumstances, it is not okay to go about snitching on other people. This pandemic does not make it okay either.
I was shown firsthand how a combination of vindictiveness and lack of judgement has the potential to make it more difficult for everyone to endure the circuit-breaker period.
An older woman brought it up to a volunteer how she suspected that my husband (a Brit) and I may not be from the same household and we should be questioned why we were working out together.
Upon confirming that we were indeed “from the same household” and therefore could exercise together, we were told that “exercises that could be done indoors should not be done in the open. Working outdoors is really for running and cycling”. By the way, we were doing a HIIT workout.
When Singapore shut down gyms and stadiums to discourage “group workouts”, they said it was okay to exercise with members of your own household as long as you keep a safe distance from other people.
- The only people using the empty space in the little park across our flat
- Working out with our friends over Zoom
- More than a few meters apart from each other
Despite obeying the rules, we were told to not exercise in the open because we could “encourage other people to work out in the same space”. What kind of reasoning is that? Were we told this simply because the older woman in the park felt we had no right to use it because we weren’t doing conventional exercises like “running and cycling”?
I understand the volunteer was trying to do her job. But in the midst of this madness, this whole “stay home” campaign, are we losing our ability to think critically and assess a situation intelligently?
The older woman may have cause to suspect that a white man and an Asian woman may not be from the “same household”, but to also complain that our presence would inspire other people to work out? That’s just plain stupidity at work. And it certainly did not help that the volunteer emboldened an asshole by acting on her complaint.
To be clear.
First, outdoor exercises are NOT PROHIBITED. And, nowhere in the “regulations” states what KIND of exercises are permitted to be done outdoors.
Second, in normal circumstances, it is NOT OKAY to be taking photos of other people in public without their permission. And this virus does not make it OKAY. App or no app, it is not decent for ANYONE to be taking pictures of other people. It is NOT OKAY to be taking pictures of other people just because you have been given the opportunity to report them.
Third, we should be encouraging sensibility — not FEAR, not vindictiveness, and certainly not cower in front of assholes. If someone has interpreted something incorrectly, it is your duty to CORRECT THEM, not give grieve to the ones who are causing them “concern”.
The TL:DR here?
Act responsibly as an individual and stay the fuck out of everyone else’s business. Don’t say you are trying to play your role as a responsible member of the community when all you want is find a chance to bully other people. If you want to be supportive, if you want to show solidarity, show it in a POSITIVE way — reporting and snitching on other people is not solidarity. You are only encouraging a climate of fear, mistrust, and killing what it means to be a community.
We can overcome this without being assholes to each other.