The other day I saw an ad on TV sponsored by StarHub, Singapore’s cable and telephone company.
There was an artsy looking woman on the screen with a ukelele trying to convince me that Singaporeans really are happy.
I wondered if this had anything to do with recent polls citing Singapore as the most emotionless country in the world and another one saying that Singaporeans didn’t experience positive emotions, basically that they are unhappy. According to the study, Singaporeans were less upbeat than people in poor or war-stricken areas like Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan and Haiti. Ouch.
Sure enough, the ad was indeed a response to the study.
There’s a whole Facebook page dedicated to proving that Singapore is actually happy. And a happiness bus that distributed free coffee outside of La Pau Sat to go with it.
So folks, this is the Singapore Happiness Campaign. You can share pictures and videos of proof that you are happy on the Facebook site in exchange for a chance to win cash and the latest mobile handsets.
The submitted photos are mostly babies and children, food and shared moments with friends. I didn’t notice any photographs of the infamous five C’s.
What does this mean for Singapore and the life satisfaction level of its residents? That indeed they are happy? That they are like everyone else in the world? That cash and mobile handsets can encourage you to participate in a social media project where you submit your very own Instagrams? Or a need to prove to the rest of the world that they are not an unhappy society?
I think it means that Singapore likes campaigns. There was the Courtesy campaign to promote a pleasant living environment filled with kind, considerate and polite Singaporeans. The Speak Good English Campaign, a movement to promote the proper use of English over Singlish in Singapore. The Speak Mandarin Campaign, to encourage the Singaporean Chinese population to speak Mandarin. Singapore’s OK Campaign, for better hygiene.
And I haven’t even mentioned the use of remade modern fairytales to warn women of declining fertility, oh my. They go on. I counted ten total government campaigns for 2012 alone off this government website.
Do they work? A 2011 study says no, they actually wear out the population.
But maybe, just maybe this happiness one will work? I’m crossing my fingers for you Singapore. Here’s to hoping that an absence of emotion doesn’t equal unhappiness, only a shyness in expressing it. It’s just too bad I missed the free coffee to go with the tagline.
Editor’s note: Although this isn’t the original commercial mentioned in the posting, you can view one of the happiness campaign videos here.