Within hours after two hotels in the heart of Jakarta were shattered by bombs, there has been a big development in Indonesian blogosphere, or should I say twitterworld.
Yes, it has been a big hit in twitter. Looks like the agenda is to show the world that Indonesians condemn the attack, that we never welcome any kind of terrorism, that we are not afraid of the terror they – whoever “they” are – try to create, that we are not a violent country, that we love peace, and hopefully the rest of the world picks up the message. (However, the trend is getting old and as Causecast.org said, “Of course, it’s already been co-opted by those with purely promotion causes, which puts a bit of a damper on the assertion that Twitter is the next great news aggregator. Certainly, it shows the trend of those showing support for the Indonesian people in the wake of violence, but deciphering those messages, weeding out the genuine from the garbage, would require a Robert Langdon-esque amount of intuition. It looks so tedious wading through the spam, I won’t even make my always-diligent interns do it.”)
Aside from Twitter, there is a page of “Indonesia Unite” in Facebook where you can join and become fans and shout your minds. There is even a website of Indonesia Unite although I couldn’t access it – as it perhaps is jammed by too many hits at once. Indonesian bloggers also spread the message about Indonesia Unite and urge others to put the national flags on their avatars, a message to the world that we are proud being an Indonesian.
I am glad that Indonesians, despite never ending tragedy that happens in the country, despite constant bitching about the government, its politicians and corrupted system, still love the country deeply, which clearly shows in the Indonesia Unite movement.
But here I must ask one question. Is that it?
I think most Indonesians are deeply traumatic by the media coverage on the previous attacks that sent the country into a despair for a long time. We all suffered from the damage in the economy, travel warning, the crash of national tourism industry, lack of foreign investments and many other impacts on the bomb blasts since 2002. It has taken years to build the confidence and positive sentiment about Indonesia. No one wants to suffer like that again, to lose face so badly like that, hence the strong message sent that we do not agree with the attack.
Not that I disagree with the movement. I do appreciate the initiation, but I don’t see the long term benefits we would make by putting red-and-white flag in our avatars. And it seems that The Jakarta Globe agrees with me: But some Web users were skeptical that the swelling of online patriotism would have any lasting impact. “This incident has had much bigger impact on patriotism among the young than 30 years of propaganda,” technology journalist Aulia Masna wrote on Twitter. “But yesterday’s call for unity needs to be followed up by offline activities.”
I think the most important thing we should do from this so-called Indonesia Unite pressure group is to push the government, our government, to find who did this. We are too scared that the impact of the attack would be like the bombs in 2002 – 2004, we have forgotten to keep pestering Indonesian government to be committed 100% to find the terrorists and would not rest until we do. We’re having too much fun pointing our fingers to A or B as the mastermind of the attacks, forgetting our duty as citizens is to make sure our government does the job right. No, I haven’t seen any single message in twitter – or I might have missed it? – that urges the government to keep reporting their findings, and what the progress they have made since the attack. Wouldn’t it be more important for us to unite to monitor what they have been doing rather than making visits to the victims and giving emotional and moving speech to the nation – have they formed special task forces to handle the victims, the search, and more importantly, the security in the country’s capital city? – and to make sure those behind the attack will be punished? And it is not just that, we also need to be consistent on our pressure and make sure they don’t waste their energy accusing who did this and that without actually doing anything to find the evidence.
We all have to do something, something real, to minimize the future attack possibility, starting from daily activities. For example, the government must improve the registration system so people wouldn’t be able to create fake IDs easily, but we – Jakartans especially – also must stop being ignorant to our surroundings and alert the authorities if we see something suspicious.
On the same day as the bomb blasts in JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton Jakarta on Friday July 17th, BBC broadcast a pretty interesting news about 20-year-old middle-class, British-born man, educated at some top independent schools, who converted to Islam in 2006 and was ready to commit the suicide attack in Bristol, England. It has emerged it was Muslims who alerted police in Bristol and counter-terrorism officers from Scotland Yard to Ibrahim’s activities. The BBC understands that his arrest was the first major one following a community tip-off.
Why can’t we do that?
Really, having our national flag attached to our avatar is nice, but it takes more than that to create peace in Indonesia, don’t you agree?