Indonesia, Where People Choose Twitter Instead of Flower

When the Paris gun and suicide bomb attacks on 13 November 2015, people of Paris put flowers and candles at Place de la Republique in Paris to pay tribute to the victims of the terror attacks. There were about 95 bunches of flowers per square metre at Martin Place and up to 100,000 bouquets after the Martin Place cafe siege in December 2014.

Following the Jakarta’s gun and bomb attack in Starbuck yesterday on 14 January 2016, only few people laid flowers and other offerings outside the Starbucks cafe that was at the center of the attack. Indonesian netizens chose to take to social media on Thursday using the hashtag #KamiTidakTakut or “We are not afraid” in responding to the shocking terror attack on Central Jakarta’s Sarinah area in Thamrin.

Many suggest because social media is faster and cheaper than flowers. On top of that, to lay flowers on the site for Jakarta people is a ‘jihad’ on its own. First they have to beat the traffic just to buy the flowers and then go to the site of the bomb blast in the Thamrin business district in Jakarta. If you go there with the driver it’s probably less hassle cause you don’t have to think about parking your car. But you still have to walk, across the crowd, under the heat in humid weather. Going by public transportation? That’s not a favorable option. Whichever option you choose, it will take you at least an hour before you can express your sympathy with flowers. In the end, your flowers won’t last long under Jakarta’s weather.

Instant Graphic Designers

To express their sympathy and solidarity, suddenly everybody becomes graphic designers. Lots of images went on social media on Thursday. It’s like each of them compete to become the most viral image like ‘pray for Paris’ logo. The absence of Facebook’s safety check feature, clearly didn’t bother Indonesians. Twitter noted that more than 820,000 tweets were dedicated to Jakarta and the planned assault, from when the first explosions were heard to around 10 a.m. on Friday. The peak of the conversation took place at 1.28 p.m. on Thursday, with a rapid 2,100 tweets per minute.

Pictures of one of the gunmen are photoshopped in minutes and circulated via social media.

Fear, Entertainment and Humor

People reacted both with fear and humour. Some social media users are more interested with the $800 Coach sling bag, the Adidas or Gucci shoes worn by the police officers. The topic of the “handsome” Indonesian police officers who responded to the attack trended on social media on Friday.

While police officers taking cover behind a car during a gun battle with attackers near the site where an explosion went off, civilians are seen looking on the same way if they are watching a movie drill.

Business as Usual

At Jalan M.H. Thamrin, Central Jakarta, the bomb attack took place, a soldier is seen sitting inside the tank, opening its door and taking the time to buy mangoes from a street vendor despite the fresh attacks. The street vendors operating near the bomb blasts continued plying their trade serving customers snacks such as grilled chicken sate as crowd watches the police wage a gun battle against the assailants. People are busy taking selfie on the terrorism site rather than dwelling in fear and anger.

Apparently, different cultures cope with fear and terrorism differently.