MEDIA LIGHT 31 - Media Literacy in Indonesia

With the advent of the internet, people all across the globe had become connected at all times, resulting in an era where you could know what your friends are doing, at all times, if so desired. In hindsight, this seemed like a win-win situation—or so the majority of internet users in Indonesia had thought. In reality, when analyzed further, digital media has brought alongside it a whole myriad of new problems that has yet to be solved entirely.

Firstly, the problem with digital media in Indonesia is that we are experiencing a cultural shock from all kinds of media experienced in merely decades—especially when it comes to the internet, our people really had no idea on how to deal with it. At most, people only knew that it promotes the rights of free speech and citizen journalism, which leads to the various cases of misinformation, be it in social media or self-sustained news blog. This negligence in wanting to understanding what the media really is about has slowly but surely “shifted” the role of every form of media there is in Indonesia.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle here is that the people perceives digital media shallowly—“It’s a way to communicate effectively”, “You can get to know all sorts of people”, “If there’s anything you don’t know, you can just ask Google”, and the list of most commonly used reasons goes on. When in actuality, for every benefits you thought you gain from using it, you also put yourself at an equal risk. 
When you’re connected to everyone at all times, you get the urge to always communicate with them, “talking” to your smartphone. When you become friends with all sorts of new people, you expose yourselves to strangers. 
When you keep using Google for everything, you become dependent on it—worst-case scenario, you use Google for your academical references purpose. Benefits and risks are and have always been two sides of the same coin.
In the past few years since smartphones had become widespread and the amount of people that can access the internet has increased exponentially, there has been messages written in attractive and entertaining forms that encourages people to get off their phones for once—what’s ironic about this is that they are posted incessantly in social and comedic sites, and who knows how much effect these posts had on convincing people to actually leave the internet for a while. 
Marshall McLuhan once proclaimed that the medium is the message, and this quote has become more relevant than ever before. Because at the end of the day, the internet is just that—a limitless sea of data, where informations come and go as quickly as they arrived.
What the people failed to understand is that the internet places speed as its first priority—and this applies to all fields inside it. Journalism, professional or not, treated their internet counterpart as a free-for-all race to upload the most recent news. 
The question being, does quality come with this speed? Information, after all, needs to be accurate to actually be used. Instead, internet journalism treated this opportunity to spice up their news to attract more readers. 
We all have seen it—clickbaiting news that only depends on its title to attract unwary viewers, “mystical” news based entirely around what might have been someone’s Photoshop job, or even news that are outright proven to be hoax months after its release.
These capitalism-based journalism had begun to pervert with journalism’s original intention to simply provide accurate information. Worse yet, it affected other forms of media as well; various TV shows based entirely around footages gotten from YouTube has appeared—and the audience loves it. 
And we obviously still do not know how to handle this “internet plague”, apparent from how the government simply blocks unwanted websites, ignorant to the fact that there are countless ways to get around said method.
What the people need is a thorough education in media. We need to finally realize that there is no superiority or inferiority between one form of media and the others—they all give their own kind of messages, referring once again to McLuhan’s quote stated earlier. 
Currently, there is an apparent lack of interest in reading and comparing media content, especially in the younger generation, feeling content with the speed and information the internet provided alone. 
In this era where the currents of information never sleeps, one must gain the power to not be easily swept and carried away by the speed at which you gain information. That power is media literacy, and it can only be gained through voluntary exposure to every kind of media present, comparing them and truly understanding the pattern of message each kind brings.

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