There has been increased tension and agitation all around ever since PM Lee announced the extension of Singapore’s circuit breaker.

On Facebook, users are updating their statuses to reflect their dissatisfaction and chiding fellow Singaporeans for not adhering to safe distancing rules, resulting in the extension and more restrictive measures, such as the closure of standalone bubble tea stores, cake shops and even barbers.

The current mood can be seen on video yesterday, after a couple uploaded a clip of them confronting and scolding a group of youths loitering at Blk 290 Tampines St 22.

Netizens were quick to jump in to criticize the teenagers for gathering during this period.

A commenter wrote: “This 20% will sabotage the other 80%. So if this 80% see and do nothing then that 20% will be successful in wasting all that the government had thrown in and extend the CB further. So we need these uncles (and) aunties to voice out and keep up the social pressure. There is just not enough resources for policing alone. We can’t let that selfish minority harm the innocent and the nation.”

Another commented: “More ppl need to be like these 2 adults. These young brats will never learn how serious the situation is until they are scolded or shamed.”

However, many also rightfully pointed out that the couple could have handled the situation better.

Facebook user, Ariffy Arif, wrote:

“Yes, I won’t deny that those teenagers are wrong. But Uncle, do you think by yelling at them as though they are your own kids will solve the issue meh? What if one of the boys snaps and jumps down out of fear ‘cause of your shouting? Just call the authorities and let them handle it.”

Others chimed in with the same sentiments. One poster pointed out that the boys’ home situations might not be the best; another said that it is important to teach our youths the right behaviour without acting out.

Said Brie Ebs: “Why don’t you just call the authorities? Let them get fined. I understand we are all restless here and pissed off at some of that ppl who refused to comply. Don’t act like a hooligan. Just remember this, you do not know the person you are gonna provoke. You do not know their temper and their mental health state. Some ppl snap and black out when they feel threatened or provoked and will do things you won’t even imagine. Is it worth it? Don’t be yaya papaya (arrogant).”

It is a slippery road when civilians start taking matters of the law into their own hands. Getting into an altercation is the last thing anyone wants in this time of Covid-19.

While the youths were wrong to ignore circuit breaker measures and safe distancing rules, two wrongs don’t make a right. Sometimes, staying home may also not be as conducive as we want to believe. Instead of shouting and shaming the teenagers on social media, getting them to cooperate by talking calmly and with compassion will probably make them more receptive to the couple’s concerns.

We all want to do the right thing. And in a time when we are trying to band together to lessen the impact of Covid-19 on people’s lives and livelihoods, it can be frustrating to see others flout it so flagrantly.

But we also want to do the right thing the right way. Yes, those youths are in the wrong. But would shouting at them in a rage be the solution? Yelling at them might make you feel better for a time, but does it really solve anything?

Similarly, this sentiment should also extend into the online social sphere. Amid all the back-and-forth comments on how the matter should have been handled, tone is important too. Many posts brought up good points on how we should conduct ourselves during the circuit breaker, but negativity and name-calling seldom result in a positive outcome.

Circuit Breaker Extension and increased tension at Tampines Street 22 Facebook Comments
Image source: Facebook / We can agree to disagree, graciously

Respect begets respect. If we want others to practise social responsibility, we first have to make them feel accepted as part of the community. And we can do so by showing kindness instead.

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Top Image: Facebook / STOMP