Given the rapid advancement of technological progress across the globe in this day and age, it is unsurprising that modern Singapore constantly vies to be at the head of the world’s technological frontier. The importance of staying up-to-date and relevant in this interconnected world cannot be emphasised further against the backdrop of economic development. Hence, efficiency and productivity have unequivocally become the focus of Singaporean society today. In light of this, it is necessary that we take a step back to review if such direction for Singapore has led to a pace of life too fast for its own good. While it is true that increased efficiency has allowed us to reap the fruits of stellar economic growth, I believe that the pace of life in Singapore is indeed too fast for its own good, considering the ramifications it has on the graciousness, health and stress levels of its people.
Some claim that the pace of life in Singapore is ideal, and not too fast because the increased emphasis on efficiency has produced desirable economic results for our society over the years. Since the dawn of its time, the Singapore government has consistently invested in and implemented strategies to ensure greater efficiency in our production processes, seeking to increase the productivity of its workers and purchase more advanced machinery to facilitate increased output. Such tactics have produced results, as evidenced by Singapore’s claim to being the country with one of the highest Gross Domestic Product per capita in the world. The affluence enjoyed by many and most Singaporeans is further illustrated by the high material living standards of households everywhere, owing to increased household incomes over the years. Hence, the current pace of life is arguably not too fast, as it has undeniably benefitted Singaporeans in the areas of higher remuneration and greater ability to buy comfort.
Moreover, some argue that Singapore cannot afford to slow down its pace of life, due to the increasingly interconnected nature of today’s global society. Against the backdrop of rapid economic development all across the globe, to slow down would mean to risk being left behind in the wave of globalisation sweeping countries everywhere. This is especially so due to our dearth of natural resources and raw materials, the lack of hinterland, as well as the small population size, all of which render Singapore disadvantaged since it is unequipped with key resources that many other countries are naturally endowed with. Recently, the government announced that it would set aside fellowships worth $10,000 for each senior worker, to help them gain mastery in their respective fields and attain the necessary qualifications to teach others. This illustrates the shift towards sustaining the employability of older workers and maximising the potential of Singapore’s limited pool of human resources. Efforts to compensate for this lack of resources also include acquiring new skills, technology, and knowledge from other countries so as to boost Singapore’s competitive edge. As multinational corporations and businesses invest where they find attractive prospects and high profits, it is hence necessary for Singapore to maintain its fast pace of life, which allows it to obtain considerable standing in the globalised world and remain lucrative.
However, it is too narrow to adopt this point of view, in light of the significant negative impacts that a fast pace of life has on Singaporeans social relationships, which are arguably equally, if not more important than the economic sphere of our lives. Late 20th century inventions such as instant messaging and video calls have shaped the habits and tendencies of today’s youths and adults, as people become accustomed to the fact that their friends and loved ones are merely a text message or a phone call away, and they often find themselves spending more time with others via electronic devices as opposed to having face-to-face conversation. As Whatsapp and other forms of messaging continue to thrive, many resign to conversing over text rather than making the effort to meet up in person over dinner, or a cup of coffee. Such habits have irrevocably affected our relationships with others and are reflected in the behaviours of our children. It is not uncommon to see quiet, desolate playgrounds in Singapore nowadays, for many children prefer to retire to the comfort of playing with an iPad in an air-conditioned room indoors. Even on public transport, the ever-familiar sight of commuters with earphones plugged in and staring at a glaring smartphone screen never fails to greet passengers daily. Evidently, the fast pace of life has compromised on flourishing social relationships and promoted a society of hermits instead.
Furthermore, the negative impacts that a fast pace of life has on our mental and physical health are far from negligible. Owing largely to the increased usage of devices and time spent looking at monitors, Singapore sees an outrageously high rate of myopia; we hold the unfortunate title of being world number 1 for the prevalence of myopia in seven to nine-year-olds. Additionally, the rise in the number of fast-food outlets in Singapore such as the popular McDonald’s or Burger King is indubitably a result of Singaporean’s greater desire for a quick and efficient meal as they hurry to get back to work. These days, many see meals simply as a necessary chore to replenish their energy, rather than something that should be leisurely enjoyed. Such an unhealthy diet contributes to the 1.7 million people in Singapore at risk of obesity-related diseases such as cardiovascular disease, and especially in explaining the dramatic rise in the number of children with Type 2 diabetes in recent years. Hence, it is evident that a fast pace of life has worsened the physical health of Singaporeans in more than one aspect. Moreover, the intense work culture is a key factor in explaining the reduced time spent on recreation or leisure activities, causing high-stress levels. People hardly give themselves sufficient time to rest and relax, trying their best to meet exorbitant workloads. According to the Institute of Mental Health, Singapore has seen large increases in cases of depression and anxiety in youths and young adults. Therefore, the decline in health levels of Singaporeans stands as strong evidence for the stand that the pace of life is indeed too fast in Singapore.
To end, although I acknowledge that their benefits reaped from economic progress is significant and desirable to all, the ramifications with which a fast pace of life brings to Singaporeans are severe and deep-rooted in their impact. Since Singapore is currently enjoying stable economic growth and progress, I propose that the government take more measures to ensure that the pace of life in Singapore is not too fast in order to prevent trends of declining, increasing stress levels, and ungraciousness are stemmed in the long run. Having said that, one must seek to achieve a balance between tangible and intangible comforts – in order to achieve, individuals should also seek to review their priorities and adjust their respective pace of life accordingly so as to ensure that it is not too fast and to the detriment of our overall well-being.