Switching on and off emotions

Bloomberg has a way to bring out the best and worst of Singapore.

Today, it draws our attention to a Gallup survey listing Singapore as the most emotionless society in the world, behind Georgia, Lithuania and Russia.

In an Emotional World, Singapore is Comfortably Numb

Of course, results of surveys are as good as the questions and who they asked. So we should not always take them at face value. But to rank No.1 Most Emotionless Societies is something to think about.

Are emotions so well controlled here that we become emotionless? Could it be because our ethnic diversity inculcates a sense of socially correct behaviour. Or could it be the way children were trained to control their emotions from young?

I have personally witnessed the way kids were told to “switch on and off” their emotions at a year-end concert in a primary school. The students were naturally excited being with their friends and about the long holiday ahead. No doubt it was noisy, not chaotic but just full of chatter from the kids seated in neat rows in the assembly hall.

As the show was about to start, a teacher appeared on stage, sternly instructed the children to be silent and gave a lecture on proper behaviour. Mission accomplished, the teacher left the stage and the show started.

By this time, the children were not interested and didn’t respond to the performance. Out came the teacher again,  only to instruct the children to have fun, sing along and enjoy themselves.

Imagine how confused these kids were. They must still be feeling the effects of the earlier scolding. How are they supposed to cope with the rapid change of moods? Do they bring this controlled behaviour through to adulthood?

Now you know why we don’t clap very loudly when we attend concerts. It’s the fear of the teacher coming on stage any moment.

JY

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