Indonesia: The Nation of Bullies

If there is one thing that i can be very sure about Indonesia is that we are a very tough nation. Yes, tough. Of course there are many aspects that characterise Indonesia, but i think tough is for me the one and only word that can describe this vast nation of different cultures.

Built upon these diverse background of people and tribes, it is not weird that people are tough with one another, ostracising each other and being cautious over other’s presence. Of course now what we do is to pretend like everything is united and stuffs like that, but we can’t ignore that if there is one glitch in the situation, the first thing we run to is either our religious belief, cultural backgorund, or political beliefs.

We tend to run into our own cave of “security” provided by our own social group to avoid “differences” and “judgement” by the mainstream culture of whatever trend is going on at the social sphere.

We cannot be different. For whatever reason. we just can’t.

Just today, i read about the case of this poor little girl (Florence) from Bandung who got heavily bullied by the people of Jogjakarta for complaining in the social media after being rejected by a gas station from filling her motorbike at a car station to avoid queueing. -Don’ get me wrong, i hate when people are jumping queues and stuffs- Adding on to that, she complained about it in the social media and sort of blaming the whole community of Jogja’s people for in a way “ignoring” her demand. Until recently, a discussion has reached even the closed chat group of my internal family. A campaign has now being arranged to kick this poor girl out of Jogjakarta.

A campaign that is arranged by the people of Jogjakarta, a city who claims themselves as having the most tolerate people in Indonesia. A country who is very proud (weirdly so) of it’s democracy and the valuation of different opinions.

Florence is being punished and bullied for having different opinion. More so, she is being heavily punished and bullied for not coming from Jogjakarta and having the guts to speak up. Disregard of whether or not her argument has any merit, she will keep being attacked until she apologies. Even by then, she will never be right ever.

And not one Indonesian can ever forget the biggest presidential election blunder in the history of Indonesia, with Prabowo being bullied as hell by the social media of Indonesia. Or probably the other way around depending on which candidate the people around you are supporting (damn you social media bubble).

We Indonesians are acting as if we are the best democratic country in the world, most diverse nation in the universe, and having the single most awesome slogan in the whole planet (Unity in Diversity) and yet our so called “unity” is formed by the homogenisation of opinion, not by acceptance.


Instead of valuing different opinions and trying to understand a challenging argument, we try to destroy the other side of the coin until one of either their opinion or our opinion take the majority of the voice and become the one and only truth in the mainstream sphere. Take the many attacks under the name of religions. The burning of churches and many other religious attacks. It showcases how the public of Indonesia continually trying to unify a truth acting as if there are only one truth and being different would consequently throw these poor “different” people under the bus.

Who do we have to blame though ?

Well one thing that i always try to remind myself  is that we are still a (not very) young nation. And even if we’ve been together even before the declaration of independence, this united nation of Indonesia hasn’t been together for that long. Prior to the sort of “forced” unity by Soekarno, we used to live in our own tribe, or kingdom, or culture, not knowing each other and sharing nothing but the sorrow of being colonialized, we even attack one another prior to that. It is then normal that when we don’t share the same suffer, we are back to our basic human nature of avoiding differences using of course cultural codes and social groups as a manner of survival. That is just a basic animal behaviour that i think is understandable. And Indonesia is for me still in the phase of transition between these tribal behaviour and “civilised” behaviour.

Second, education. Sadly i always have to refer back to our sad education system when it comes to the many negative phenomenon that is happening in my lovely nation. Our education system teaches us to learn what is right and what is wrong. The answer is in an extreme, not continuum. We only know what is absolute right and what is absolute wrong. Not which one is better or more suitable. Not critical thinking. not even logic. For all we know, The number of planets in our universe are nine and it will never change. Why ? because the textbook and the teacher said so. This sort of training that has been conditioned to us as early as four years old will automatically teaches us to not value curiosity and differences, only absolute rightness. That is why when people have different opinion in school, gas station, or even a presidential race, the initial response would be not to try and understand the merit of their argument but to attack it and calling it as either “inhuman”, “Ungodly”, or “In-Indonesia”.

Ultimately, i think we cannot blame the people and their behaviour. That is the only reaction they know and understand when it comes to differences.

It does sound rather ridiculous for a democratic country to have this sort of problem of valuing differences in opinion. But sadly that is the fact and even the great great United States of America still struggle with it.

The only chance that we have now is to have a revolution in our education system, or to wait until we are civilised enough. Which may take more than 400 years if we are to learn anything from our friend the U.S.


And yes, they were meant to wrote “trending” not tranding ..

One thought on “Indonesia: The Nation of Bullies

  1. It’s not the first time this exact situation has happened. There are also a similar situation where a family were forced to leave their neighborhood because their son doesn’t want to be involved in planned mass cheating in his school. We are Democratic yes, but sometimes our biggest voice were voice of the thoughtless. It’s because our education system were based on dogmatic principles where we are not trained to be critical instead to just swallow an information without processing it.
    Therefore, it is possible that this similar events will happen again if our society doesn’t try to sometimes stop looking at their computer and try to think for a moment about the information they has obtained.

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