Why Does Singapore's GenZ Feel So Isolated?
Her World Singapore|November 2021
Gen Z is the most connected generation of all – yet they feel the most alone. What’s going on?
Tara Barker

They’re the generation that grew up with the Internet, smartphones and social media. They learnt how to swipe before they knew how to read. They can’t remember a time when “Google” wasn’t a verb. Yes, this is Gen Z – born between 1997 and 2012, and now aged 9 to 24. They’re the most connected generation ever – yet 82 percent of Gen Zs in Singapore say “emotional connections are weaker than in the past”, higher than the global average of 76 per cent.

This is just one of the startling findings in The Truth About Gen Z, a report released in March this year by McCann Worldgroup, a global marketing services company. It interviewed 32,000 people around the globe, including 5,000 from countries around the Asia-Pacific, including Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, China and Thailand.

SO WHY DO OUR GEN ZS FEEL SO ALONE?

“When you’re interacting online through a screen, you present a curated view of yourself. So you feel disconnected. It’s different when you’re interacting offline and things flow more naturally,” explains Manasi Trivedi, McCann’s strategy director for South-east Asia.

Cancel culture doesn’t help. Manasi says: “People can’t have conversations in coffee shops in real life at the moment, but kopitiam discussions are still happening, via Whatsapp or DM.

“Gen Z is very aware of being cancelled or called out. They’ve had access to the Internet since primary school, so they feel like they must have an opinion on everything.”

The trouble is, Gen Z knows that what is said online will be on record forever. There’s a constant fear that someone will screenshot their views, and they’ll be called out, now or in the future. If they don’t say something about a topic, they’re cancelled. If they say something somebody doesn’t agree with, they’re cancelled.

“In Singapore focus groups, we hear people say you don’t really have the option to go offline and ignore it all. If you go offline, your friends will be like... ‘Hello? Are you dead?’ So you have to show up every single day on all these different channels, be very careful about what you say, and hide parts of yourself. It’s exhausting,” explains Manasi.

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