Nowadays Indonesian society is getting familiar and fluent in empowering themselves with the information technology. They use social media for a variety of activities such as online business, publication activities, to convey ideas, or just to say hello to friends and colleagues.
This phenomenon can be seen from the behavior change of people. People who used to be happy to linger reading printed newspaper, today they are quite satisfied with reading the news on twitter or reading digital newspaper. The discussions that have been conducted eye contacts in the real world also began to move into the virtual world.
The tendency of people today is something instant, fast, and less time consuming. We can see people on public places such as airport, train station, bus station, hospital, mall and many more are spending their free time to surf in cyberspace. Even in between work or learning activity, the community look forward to social networking.
News and information are easily accessed by the public. Both societies in urban and rural areas are more aware of any news and information that is happening in the community in a short time. Online social networking is in the position of a new public space where every human being is able to satisfy his/her desire to channel and convey ideas, ego, and superego through the virtual media.
As people increasingly need this public space to establish their existence, there are many social networking services which are available to be accessed by the public and which have various purposes like a public space that is realistic in this universe.
For people who frequently surf in the internet world would know a wide variety of social networking sites. Starting from Friendster from the beginning of 2002, then it was followed by MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Path, and others. Maybe most of us have an account on one of these sites, or even have all the accounts because each social networking site provides different and unique facility.
Through its development, social networks have given positive impacts to people’s life. Call it, a variety of popular cases such as disputes Prita with Omni International Hospital, Bibit Samad RJ-Chandra Hamzah, or more famous as the case of “Cicak vs Buaya”, the case of book banning dismantling Gurita Cikeas written by George Junus Aditjondro, and many other cases. Various cases represent the impact of social injustice and inequality systems associated with law enforcement in this country.
But in accordance to its positive impacts, it also gives negative impacts. Various criminal actions occur through social networking, such as pornography, porno-action, rampant fraud through social media, defamation, identity theft, drug trafficking, and many other crimes.
In addition, the use of social networking sites which are not in accordance to age has an impact on the individual’s mentality, especially children. Children who are too quick to have access to social network and lack of guidance from parents or teachers will make the children tend to be anti-social. These children are happier to socialize through social network rather than through social activity in the real world. Children can also access pornographic sites easily.
Addiction to social networking is also another issue. One of the worst case is a 19th year old British girl who made 200 self-image photos in a day in order to get positive comments on Facebook and even tried to commit suicide because her efforts failed. The life of a teenager is strongly influenced by peers, increasingly depressed by the presence of social media. It shows how social media can create addiction, and invite mental problems among adolescents in the 21st century.
The negative impacts may also happen to adults. Social media can be misused to defame individuals, institutions, ethnics, religions and other groups. It may interfere with the safety, order, and peace in the community. People are much bolder to give comment on social media, but not dare enough to account for his/her opinion in the real world. From the most recent case we can see Florence’s case that cursed the people of Yogyakarta in Path account and imposed social bullying to her.
To cope with the various problems arising from information technology misuse, including social networking, actually the government issued Undang-Undang ITE No. 11 tahun 2008 on Information and Electronic Transactions. There are both criminal sanctions and money to various offenses arising from this information technology misuse. Criminal acts directed against this law may end up on 6 years imprisonment and/or 1 billion maximum fine.
However, in addition to be familiar with and understand the regulation deal with misuse of social networking, government and community need to conduct training and workshops for the community as a precautionary measure, ranging from the level of children, adolescents, up to the parents. With this, people will understand how to use information technology and social networking well and in accordance to the norms prevailing in the society.
Dita Surwanti is a lecturer at English Education Department of Sarjanawiyata Tamansiswa University in Yogyakarta