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Indonesia

Instant culture poses big challenge for Indonesian youths

Negative modern influences are seducing Indonesia's younger generation, which doesn't bode well for the future

Instant culture poses big challenge for Indonesian youths

Indonesian students march towards the presidential palace during a protest to commemorate the Youth Pledge Day in Jakarta on Oct. 28, 2019. (Photo: AFP)

October is of special importance to the people of Indonesia for two reasons. 

Firstly, the foiling of a coup by the Communist Party is commemorated, and secondly the heroism of young nationalists who gathered for a two-day congress that ended with the Youth Pledge on Oct 28, 1928, in Jakarta is honored.

The pledge — one motherland, one nation, one language — given by hundreds of young people from all over the archipelago was another leap towards independence.

Their idealism, spirit of unity, work ethic, and even the sacrificing of some of their lives, has been remembered for generations. Such idealism is expected from and to be passed on from young people today. 

However, these ideals are continually threatened by the negative impacts of "instant culture," characterized by the desire to have everything now without making any effort and the way of thinking and behavior of many youths.

The rapid growth of social media, while connecting the world, has spurred the young population into indulging in negative activities. 

But a lack of education or mentorship results in an 'instant' mentality, leaving little room for youths to decipher what’s right or wrong.

An Indonesian Communication and Information Ministry report in 2019 revealed that it had logged nearly half a million complaints about negative activities online, mostly pornography with 245,000 cases, followed by defamatory content, gambling, scams and rumor-mongering. 

Although there was no age indication in the report, it should be noted that more than half of the Indonesian population consists of Generation Z, about 75.5 million, and the millennials, who number about 70 million.

American sociologist William Henry Frey defines Generation Z as those born between 1997 and 2012, while millennial refers to those born between 1981 and 1996.

The latest survey by the Indonesian Internet Service Providers Association, says internet use in Indonesia is dominated by people aged 15–24 who mainly use it to access social media.

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On the one hand, the young population helps tremendously in boosting the economy. But a lack of education or mentorship results in an “instant” mentality, leaving little room for youths to decipher what’s right or wrong.

It causes the loss of the ability to understand deeper concepts affecting human life or engage in thoughtful insights.

It's a consequential challenge for Indonesia which in 10 years will enter a demographic bonus period where a high proportion of the population — about 65 percent — will be at their most productive. While this can be the engine of economic growth, it could also be disastrous if not managed properly now.

The negative impacts brought by “instant culture,” such as the inability to develop critical thinking, demanding immediate answers to all problems, makes the younger generation susceptible to false information which has had an immense impact on Indonesian society.

Accepting fake information as truth is one of the many influences instant culture has on young people. 

Father Antonius Benny Susetyo, a presidential adviser on national ideology, is convinced that false information is a threat to today's younger generation, in particular those that cannot face modern challenges.

This is very dangerous and Indonesians had to pay the price during the 2019 presidential election that turned violent and nearly divided the nation.

On many occasions, President Joko Widodo has warned of transnational radical ideologies targeting Indonesian youths

Teenage or gang brawls in Indonesia also often occur due to believing false information spread on social media. On Oct. 25, some teenagers livestreamed a fight on social media — another example of how the “instant mentality” has penetrated deep into the lives of Indonesian youths.

The State Intelligence Agency says the inability, particularly among young people, to filter information has given rise to mutual suspicion, distrust, intolerance, hatred towards certain groups and extremism.

The agency believes that 85 percent of Indonesian youths are exposed to, or adopt, radical ideology widely espoused on social media.

On many occasions, President Joko Widodo has warned of transnational radical ideologies targeting Indonesian youths. He’s called on religious leaders, scholars and organizations to guide the younger generation more at home and at school.

Religious groups, including the Catholic Church, have expressed concerns about the negative impacts instant culture has on young people. 

Using the national Youth Pledge Day celebration on Oct. 28 as a platform, church leaders have called on young Catholics to understand the significance it holds.

It reminds Indonesian youths that it was Christians who initiated the first day of the congress in October 1928 held at a Catholic venue, now part of the Our Lady of the Assumption Cathedral in Jakarta. It also reminds Christians of their responsibility to uphold the principles of Indonesia’s secular ideology — Pancasila.

Emphasizing religious doctrine without proper monitoring by authorities leads to indoctrination, and unfortunately it can lead to religious conservatism

To steer young people away from negative activities, there is a need for cooperation throughout society.

One of the key suggestions to prevent young people from succumbing to false promises instant culture espouses is continually building balanced relationships through parent-children communication. Effective communication between parents and children can reduce the negative impact of social media. 

Meanwhile, the government has to continue efforts to crack down on negative online influences such as pornography, gambling, fake news and radical ideologies.

Educational institutions, human development groups and religious organizations must help sharpen critical thinking among teenagers with a lesser focus on religious doctrine.

Emphasizing religious doctrine without proper monitoring by authorities leads to indoctrination, and unfortunately it can lead to religious conservatism. Instead, emphasis should be given to preparing young people to appreciate life and its stages.

By doing so, the younger generation can be saved from the dangers of having an instant mentality. 

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of UCA News.

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