The truth about anxiety in Singapore

Anxiety – google it and you will have close to 346,000,000 results in less than a second – ranging from news updates about the topic, personified definitions, to personal experiences just about all across the internet by people all over the world.

Some people refer to it as saying that it’s more than just being the “quiet one” in the crowded room, while others qualify the very notion of suddenly feeling nervous or even a drastic mood swing of one’s feelings to an uncontrollable state as anxiety.

So, what I’m trying to write about here in this article is not all of that. Heck, I’m not even qualified to give you a proper definition of anxiety. (*insert laughter*) But rather, let me shed light about the very truth of the anxiety mixture in my very own observation here today as a millennial of my community – the very progressive state of Singapore.

Singapore, in my own understanding today, has grown to become a generation so accustomed to exponential progression, but in recent times, has also reminded me of how anxiety here has become a norm for many to live with. 

This also left me pondering – what could be the possible outcomes we are putting ourselves into moving forward for the future?

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The anxiety of Social media – the catalyst

There had been many controversial discussions all across the world relating how social media contributes as a catalyst to anxiety for many communities. Singapore as a society was no exception to that especially with how connected Singaporeans are today. But, how much do we know about how social media actually spites anxiety?

It is Time For A Digital Detox

As a fun fact, what you see across most social media we have today started from a basic set of recurring algorithms developed to pull back people to the application. What was interesting was that the actual fact that these algorithms were developed through the observation of gamblers in Las Vegas’ Casinos during its premature stages.

Similar to when a gambler strikes a hit at the jackpot machine, what naturally draws users was the feeding of endorphins when one hits a certain number of likes, having just posted their latest update and gained recognition. This naturally sets us on a course of excessive usage to feed our mental well-being for some and what might possibly lead to social anxiety disorder.

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As such, in complement with other parts of our daily lives in the real world, social media has become an inaugural part of real acceptance in my society especially, which left me wondering – what really matters more, real or virtual recognition?

What I do know was that, I do see and agree that there is this sheer possibility of an era dependent on social credit, and maybe, just maybe Black Mirror’s episode – Nosedive can well be true one day and there is someone out there feeling anxious and lost just because he or she fails to possibly get deserved recognition online.

The anxiety of doing nothing– the unnecessary

A recent release by the local news outlet –The Straits Times revealed a poll conducted on 600 Singaporeans who were recently surveyed, three in 10 people did not comprehend the notion of relaxing and one in 2 people were genuinely convinced of feeling stressed out and anxious if they were repositioned into a situation where they are doing nothing.

But what was even surprising more was the fact that of these people surveyed, 52% of them were stuck in a daily routine and were unable to get out. This made me think – Was doing something routine without any much progress worth spending half our lives away in exchange to have that constant upkeep of our societal status with one another? (The next best car, the next big-ticket purchase, etc…) Or maybe, just feeling anxious from doing nothing, might well be the right thing to do?

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What I do know is that this might well be a call for our society to re-acclimatise the airtightness to be doing nothing for a short period of time especially for reflection and self-growth, but not anxiety. Also, the need for us to understand work, life and growth co-exist in harmony, not as a balance. Only when the society understands all of these, we could better move forward ourselves as happier and possibly more quality productivity in years to come. 

The anxiety of ageing – the unanswered

I never clearly saw this part of the society until a recent article titled – “Why do Singaporean Men in Their 50s Have Non-Existent Social Circles?” by Ricemedi.coshed some light about this interesting trend. True enough, like what was mentioned in the article, I too have a dad that follows a strict routine of having weekly NTUC runs, cleans the house every Tuesday and Saturday with a very strict set of rules, sits at home scrolling Facebook and old music videos and just rinse and repeat weekly.

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Which brings me to the point, where has all the spontaneity of this age group shed too? And if so, as a millennial, and even more so – a male, I was pretty sure that I would not want to grow to become someone like that in my mid-50s. Which left me pondering, because there was truly no one remedy to why and how I was feeling this way – the anxiety of possibly losing my social circle as I age.

Was this due to our upbringing? Or just the way our society conducts ourselves? And bear in mind, I believe this trend is evolving to becoming gender-neutral. Well, but one thing is definite, we ought to be prepared to see lonelier, and probably much more angsty, individuals in the near future. 

The real question here is what are we willing to change things for the better?

Read how to worry less and practice mindfulness everyday .
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About ADDISON HO YU ANN 4 Articles
Addison Ho grew as a contributing writer/creative from his time in Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Today, he enjoys writing about his observations of modern society, art, design and entertainment.

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