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The Jakarta Post
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Independence Day brings out the fun

  • Tertiani ZB Simanjuntak

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Sun, August 16, 2015 | 08:38 am
Independence Day brings out the fun

If social media is any indicator of real issues and people'€™s perception about them, posts by netizens ahead of Independence Day on Aug. 17 may lead to confusion.

Creative minds with access to the Internet have created memes that have gone viral with diverse content and images, all related to the folk celebration of the 70 years of independence.

A popular one is a pun that derives from the panjat pinang competition in which participants climb a greased pole (usually part of a pinang or areca nut palm tree) to grab gifts hanging at the top of the pole. The fastest climber has the chance to win everything.

For the meme, the creator created a pun out of the words panjat and pinang targeting singles with a caption that says: Do you want to be in panjat pinang or pray for someone to ask for your hand in marriage instead?

In colloquial Indonesian, panjat is a phrase for praying, while pinang is a marriage proposal.

There is also a meme mentioning another popular race: eating kerupuk or cassava starch crackers hung inches above the head. The participant who eats the most wins.

'€œKerupuk eating races are so mainstream,'€ it says on the upper side of the image and then, '€œWhy don'€™t you eat your heart out for a change?'€

Aside from memes about traditional Independence Day-themed events, some memes show images of a person running away either from the ex-girlfriend or reality.

While the memes may invite a smirk or protest, some touch on serious topics. A logo in red and white '€” the colors of the Indonesian flag '€” bearing the image of the national emblem, the Garuda, and the number 70 in the middle, has been adopted by social media users as their profile picture.

Twitter Indonesia, in collaboration with many communities, also launched a similar logo with the number seven made to look like the head of the national emblem. The logo bears the words Indonesia Merdeka (Independence of Indonesia) at the top and ayo kerja (let'€™s work) at the bottom.

It incorporates the hashtags #RI70 and #Indonesia to mobilize Twitterians. The first of them to post the logo was President Joko '€œJokowi'€ Widodo on Aug. 10. Within two hours it became Twitter'€™s top trending topic and held the position for three days.

It was soon followed by #NyalakanIndonesiaRI70 (Light up Indonesia) '€” a call to netizens throughout the country to share photos and videos displaying how they celebrate Independence Day.

Among Twitter collaborators for the project were Indonesia Mengajar (@Ind_Mengajar) '€” a community of volunteers teaching at elementary school in remote areas'€“and Fun Cican (@funcican), which represents the creative industry.

'€œTwitter encourages users to use the hashtag while sharing digital content on the unique tradition, destination as well as inspiring facts about Indonesia,'€ said Teguh Wicaksono, partnership manager of Twitter Indonesia.

Photos and videos posted using the hashtag #RI70 will be curated and collected at nyalakanindonesia.com.

Indonesia Mengajar executive director Hikmat Hardono said volunteers in 17 regencies were witnessing how thousands of people were helping to improve education in 127 remote villages.

Wahyu Aditya, the founder of Fun Cican , said the creative industry was responsible for showing the best of Indonesia to the world. '€œSocial media platforms make the task easier and more effective,'€ he said.

With Twitter now the power hub of information sources and the most effective people mobilization tool, social media observer Shafiq Pontoh said there had been a slowdown of traffic after the presidential election last year that had divided the country.

Twitter users in Indonesia, he said, had avoided topics that might lead to endless discussion, debate or worse, a twitter war. '€œEven if there is one, it will only last a day. People are keener to pick up positive, inspiring content,'€ Shafiq said.

 Social media, of course, is not without its fun gimmicks. There have been posts on a string of coincidences surrounding this year'€™s celebration.

When the numbers on Independence Day 17-8-45 are added, they equal 70. In Chinese-influenced Indonesian society, the number seven is a symbol of luck.

With double luck looming on that day, chances are slim that anyone will miss the date.

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