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Republic of content

Tempo - April 17, 2021

Jakarta – President Jokowi validated hedonistic sensibility on social media when he attended the wedding of social media celebrity Atta Halilintar. It showed scant regard for social empathy.

For Joko Widodo, the social media seems to be one of utmost importance. To exist in cyberspace, he shoved aside presidential propriety when, together with Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto, he attended and became witness at the gala wedding of celebrity couple Muhammad Attamimi Halilintan and Titania Aurelie Nurhermansyah, on Saturday, April 3. Jokowi, also Prabowo, in their private lives have every right to become witness at whomever's wedding ceremony. But, in the middle of the still unbridled coronavirus contagion and a flash flood that hit East Nusa Tenggara on that very day, there was no need for the President and other government officials to attend that wedding. Appreciation for the bridal couple and their families need not be shown by turning up and acting as witness to the conjugal ceremony. A congratulatory floral board would have sufficed. If he wished to give his trademark souvenir, Jokowi could have sent a bicycle to the bride and the groom.

Jokowi's attendance instead raised questions regarding his consistency when facing disasters. He often complains how the pandemic has wreaked havoc on the economy. Jokowi also makes repeated behests for the community to be disciplined in maintaining social distancing and avoiding crowds. Yet on the other hand, he attended the gala extravaganza of two entertainers, which however strictly they adhered to health protocols still held the potential for spreading the virus.

We are not too surprised at the sudden disregard for propriety by the President and other state officials. On many occasions, Jokowi has shown that social restriction applies to everyone except himself. When visiting Maumere, East Nusa Tenggara, on February 23, for instance, the President incited people to crowd around him when he gave out souvenirs from inside his vehicle. Interestingly, the Palace considered it par for the course, and said the crowding had to be deemed community spontaneity. When the violation was reported to the police, the case was immediately dismissed.

It could well be Jokowi enjoys surfing the crowds, including on social media. Atta Halilintar is recorded as having over 27 million followers on his YouTube account, the highest figure in Indonesia and Southeast Asia. Any content he produces on social media, including his love story, is avidly watched hundreds of thousands of times. His proposal of marriage and his wedding event, which were broadcast live, obviously would be a magnet for any politician to show they exist while at the same time pumping up their popularity with netizens. And Jokowi willingly became an actor in the show. This role he played was even officially relayed by the state for appearing in the State Secretariat website. And thus, the country officially became a Republic of Content.

In a situation where the economy is still in sad disarray, the President's action has disregarded the ethics for a state official. Moreover, one month before the wedding, the Central Statistics Agency reported the number of poor in September 2020 had increased by 1.13 million, making it now a total of 27.55 million poor people in Indonesia. But the President instead basked in the shallow culture of social media, flashing the status and hedonistic lifestyle of the rich and famous.

The President and other state officials would do well to be more careful in their every public appearance. Not only should he show more empathy to the people's social conditions, Jokowi could also weight the benefits of his appearances for the public in general, and not merely for that of a handful of people. Let little-tattle matters such as celebrity weddings be for other people. The President of Indonesia, who is only one person, would do best to focus on matters of larger public consequence.

Read the Complete Story in Tempo English Magazine: https://magz.tempo.co/read/37768/republic-of-content

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/1453578/republic-of-conten