Solo time

What do you think when you see someone singing karaoke (apparently) alone in a Shanghai subway station karaoke box? What about the person in the adjacent karaoke box, who appears to just be relaxing/waiting?

Consider the activities in your context that are typically done in a group of others rather than individually. How do you think these “group” activities get to have this connotation, and what are the implications for engaging in them as an individual – both for the individuals themselves, and for broader society? For example, the political scientist Robert Putnam took “bowling alone” as a symptom of America’s declining social capital and fraying social fabric. Think about how this question is affected by “public” and “private” dynamics as well – if people can’t see you engaging in the “group activity” in a solo capacity, how does that change things?

Consider also how the acceptability of these things vary between cultures. One context’s group activity may be a completely acceptable solo activity elsewhere. When is breaking these norms taboo, versus just a bit out of the ordinary?

Finally, zooming in a bit, would you ever a scene like this where you are? Either the solo singing or the relaxing/waiting? What are (un)acceptable activities one might do in a transparent, climate controlled box in a highly public space where you live?

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