Control-Alt-Delete Action: Indonesian activist youth navigating the double-edged sword of social media

A Development Research seminar with Dr Yatun Sastramidjaja
Associate professor
Dr Yatun Sastramidjaja
Thursday 6 Jun 2024, 16:00 - 17:30
Spoken Language
Aula A
International Institute of Social Studies
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Yatun Sastramidjaja

In this Development Research Seminar Yatun Sastramidjaja discusses how activist youth in Indonesia are reconsidering their relationship to social media and redefining the meaning of the digital in activism

Making protest issues 'go viral' on social media, in order to attract media attention and put pressure on the government, is a key strategy for the new generation of activist youth that came out during the 2019 and 2020 mass protests in Indonesia. 

These activist youth showed a remarkable capacity to blend online and offline repertoires of action, which seems natural for a generation that grew up in conditions of perpetual techno-social connectivity in which the boundaries between online and offline realms dissolve. 

Yet, so-called 'Gen-Z' activists have an ambivalent relationship to social media. While they strongly identify as the 'digital generation'— recognizing their digital savviness as a distinctive strength and social media as a vital component of activism — many are all too conscious of social media’s limitations and pitfalls. 

As their generation’s technology of the Self, social media enable new collective identities and forms of collective agency, yet also delimit their modes of discourse and action. Moreover, social media confront activist youth with the risk of systematic online harassment and cyber-repression. Paradoxically, then, while going viral is considered a vital strategy for being heard, it comes with the potential backlash of being muted. 

In this seminar, Yatun Sastramidjaja discusses how activist youth navigate the double-edged sword of social media in activism, showing how they are starting to reconsider their relationship to social media and to redefine the meaning of the digital in activism.

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The Development Research seminars present cutting-edge research on development studies by noted scholars from around the world. The Series aims to stimulate critical discussion about contemporary development issues.

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