Hug deprived in Singapore

Me and my roomie hugging at our '60s party

Me and my roomie hugging at our ’60s party

Hugs are great! Give me hugs!!

More hugs please!

One thing I wish was different about Singapore is that friends hugged each other more often. This is just part of Singapore culture. When I went back to the USA for 3 months earlier this year, I really liked hugging friends again, either when we first saw each other or when we’re parting ways. It isn’t a big deal, but no one does that in Singapore.

People hardly touch each other. Heck, even during rush hour in Singapore, there is not much touching, especially if you compare to New York‘s rush hour where people will take a small running start to jam through like it was a mosh pit. You will probably get off of the train smelling like someone else.

For all of the Western influence, I reckon this is coming from the very conservative side of Singapore. Maybe it is also partly the British influence. But, it’s one of the things that surprised me about Singapore. While they can accept and adapt to so much Western culture and influence, a very deep rooted conservativeness remains. This is not a bad or a good thing, just something that seems to be.

No touching

I’m not a very touchy feely person to begin with, and even feel awkward sometimes with very touchy friends, but it is nice to have some physical contact with other people. I don’t think my friends here would refuse a hug from me, but I don’t know about forcing it on them.

Even among my international friends, there isn’t much hugging or touching. This cultural norm is just so pervasive, but we’re trying to change that.

There are some classic studies showing how physical touch is important for performance. There was a study that kept track of NBA basketball teams that slapped hands versus teams that did not, and teams that did slap hand often tended to perform better.

So touch is important for cooperation, communication, and probably other social interactions. I wonder if this would help with non-physical performance related activities, like research and academia. Maybe in our research group we should give each other high fives more often!

Is there anything you wish was different about Singapore culture?