Genuine human connection is the ultimate currency Singaporeans lack [W&S 64 Simone Heng]

Loneliness in Singapore: Addressing an Epidemic

Loneliness has become a prevailing issue in today’s society, even in a highly connected world. Singapore, known for its bustling city life and economic success, is not exempt from this phenomenon. In a thought-provoking podcast episode our guests and host engage in a candid conversation with Simone Heng, an author and speaker specializing in loneliness and human connection. This article provides a detailed summary of their engaging discussion, shedding light on the paradox of loneliness in Singaporean society.

Special Guest: Simone Heng

Former broadcaster, International author “Let’s Talk About Loneliness”, Global Keynote Speaker specialising in loneliness and human connection. Simone has also spoken at Harvard, SXSW, the UN, TedX & more.

Simone is no stranger to audiences in Singapore, having worked as a TV and radio personality for many years before moving abroad. However, she tells Reggie “I’ve been away for the past decade, traveling 40% of last year. It’s lovely to feel seen and anchored again in a local podcast.”

Diving into the topic at hand, Simone acknowledges that loneliness “is different from being alone. Loneliness is the perception of a gap between the kind of human connection you desire and the kind you’re currently receiving.” This insightful definition sets the stage for a thoughtful discussion on why loneliness has reached epidemic levels, even in an era where connecting is supposedly easier than ever.

The Paradox of Loneliness:

Reggie introduces the topic by highlighting the paradox of being more connected than ever, yet feeling increasingly disconnected. He emphasizes that this issue is not unique to Singapore but is a global concern. Simone Heng, who shares her insights on loneliness and human connection, adds, “There’s a chapter in my book about this called ‘The Paradox’ because it’s different from being alone. It’s about feeling lonely, even when surrounded by people.”

Exploring Personal Experiences:

Simone Heng, a former broadcaster, discusses her journey and how she transitioned to becoming an author and speaker, focusing on loneliness and human connection. She shares how her personal experiences, such as losing her father and witnessing her mother’s illness, inspired her to delve into this topic. Simone emphasizes the importance of addressing wounds and trauma prevalent in Asian households, which often discourage open discussion about personal struggles.

Breaking Free from Cultural Norms:

The conversation delves into the cultural norms and expectations prevalent in Asian families, particularly in Singapore. Eric Fung shares his own experiences growing up in a traditional Asian household, where rules and expectations were ingrained. He emphasizes the need to break free from these patterns and consciously choose a different path to avoid perpetuating generational trauma.

The Impact of Risk Aversion:

One aspect discussed is how risk aversion, ingrained in Singaporean society, can both contribute to a safe and prosperous environment while fostering fear and isolation. Reggie shares a personal example of how his family’s risk aversion led to unnecessary fear, even in seemingly harmless situations. The guests discuss the importance of finding a balance between caution and allowing individuals to explore and take calculated risks.

Understanding Loneliness in Singapore:

The podcast conversation also addresses why Singaporeans, particularly working-class professionals, experience loneliness. The guests acknowledge that despite technological advancements making it easier to connect, people still feel a sense of isolation. They attribute this to societal pressures, a lack of shared values in friendships, and the fast-paced nature of modern life.

Simone cites several factors contributing to loneliness in Singapore. While living in a compressed, urban environment means “we’re always seeing other human beings,” the lack of acknowledgment between strangers on the street means missing out on “dopamine and oxytocin hits from eye contact or interaction.”

More importantly, she notes that “technology is impeding social connection behaviours” for younger generations who grew up online. Without an “analogue childhood” to foster natural curiosity, people don’t know how to have meaningful conversations. This leads to “lonely brain” spirals of negativity that tell people to isolate further.

You can check their full interview on Wise & Shine, Episode 64 on Spotify, YouTube, Google podcast or Apple podcast for valuable insights into the paradoxical nature of our highly connected yet increasingly isolated society. Simone Heng’s experiences and expertise shed light on the wounds and traumas prevalent in Asian households, encouraging open discussions to break free from generational patterns. The conversation also highlights the impact of risk aversion and societal pressures on feelings of loneliness. As Singaporeans navigate the complexities of modern life, it is crucial to cultivate meaningful connections and foster a sense of community to combat the pervasive issue of loneliness.

For listeners relating to Simone’s insights, this heartening podcast shows loneliness is a universal struggle with surmountable social and self-care solutions. Most of all, it spreads a message of compassion for ourselves and others during times of perceived disconnect.

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