We are the most emotionless society in the world

From ‘S’pore most emotionless society in the world: Survey’, 21 Nov 2012, article in Today online

Singapore has ranked as the most emotionless society in the world by a Gallup survey, according to a Bloomberg News report. The survey polled more than 140 countries to compare how people felt about their lives. Respondents were asked questions such as “Evaluate your life on a scale of zero to 10” and whether their life would be better or worse five years from now.

Singapore came in ahead of countries such as Georgia, Lithuania and Russia, for being the most emotionless society. The most emotional society was the Philippines, followed by El Salvador and Bahrain. “If you measure Singapore by the traditional indicators, they look like one of the best-run countries in the world,” Gallup partner Jon Clifton was quoted by Bloomberg as saying. “But if you look at everything that makes life worth living, they’re not doing so well.

According to the report, not many Singaporeans answered “yes” to negative questions, and to questions measuring happiness, such as, had they smiled yesterday, had they learnt something interesting or felt respected or well-rested?

Being ’emotional’ may not indicate passion, liveliness, fun or happiness. In fact being ’emotional’ has somewhat negative connotations when you’re talking about one’s professional conduct or describing a partner or spouse, and brings to mind pettiness, fanaticism, wackiness, or jealousy. Conversely, being labelled an ’emotionless’ nation can’t be all that bad. After all, it’s a trait that’s synonymous with cold German ‘efficiency’ or Ryan Gosling’s character in Drive; Singapore is the warrior monk of all nations, the Droopy to the Yogi Bear that is the Philippines.

It doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re a boring or unhappy lot, and I’d like to think of this result as a tribute to Singaporeans being a reasonable, composed, poker-faced people, though we wouldn’t be first on the invite list of a Playboy mansion party, nor someone you would want to be stranded on a remote island with. You don’t see Singaporeans whistling on the streets, and anyone caught humming or bobbing their heads in public would be viewed with suspicion. Some would argue that our numbness is due to years of one-party oppression, that we’re just, well, jaded. We could excel in a couple of niche professions though, like a gambler or executioner for example. We also blend in seamlessly with the wax figures at Madam Tussaud’s, or at a Night of the Living Dead zombies’ Meetup.

Our lack of ’emotion’ could be linked to the flatness of Singlish in terms of tone or inflection, a language which outsiders may label as monotonous, delivered with the panache of a one-note Autotune. We speak, therefore we have become. But here’s how we fare in related global surveys, which may provide further insight as to why we’re  perceived as ’emotionless’ beings.

1. Our lack of sexual activity: Singaporeans have among the least sex in the world.  Maybe that explains the joylessness of our existence, a nation devoid of post-coital cuddling. Our women don’t think very much of our guys’ erections either.

2. We are among the top gambling nations in the world. Our obsession and history with punting has bred a nation of poker faces, both the high-rollers at the card tables or the HDB uncles and aunties with blank expressions at the Toto booth.

3. Surprise, surprise, we are among the COOLEST countries in the world. Too cool to show emotion too, perhaps. You know, like Brando or Clint Eastwood in a Western.

4. We are the second unhappiest workers on the planet. Couple that with lack of sex above and little wonder why we have little to smile, or laugh about.

5. No argument on this one. We’ve been called the World’s most BORING country.  It doesn’t explain staycations, though.

I believe the physical lack of emotion is just one shallow facet of the Singaporean psyche. An emotionless society wouldn’t care enough to complain, and this blog alone is proof that when it comes to complaining, we would top the charts like we do the rest if there were ever a global survey on the matter. We may not have a Mardi Gras every weekend or ply the streets overnight with confetti and party-hats, but you can’t dismiss our kiasu-ism and passion for making things right, the way we throng IT fairs, fight on public transport, snigger at sex scandal testimonies, or profess our love for man-Gods. So I’m not sure if the Gallip people got real Singaporeans to answer questions, or if they simply watched one episode of Crime Watch.

Hands up if you’re feeling an emotion



3 Responses

  1. […] EVERYTHING ALSO COMPLAIN: We are the most emotionless society in the world – pressrun.net: Thriving or struggling: Singapore and other […]

  2. […] EVERYTHING ALSO COMPLAIN: We are the most emotionless society in the world – pressrun.net: Thriving or struggling: Singapore and other […]

  3. Dafuq did I just read.

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