Making many jokes of terrorist attack

August 16, 2018


It was very shocking to learn that a terrorist attack happened again in Indonesia, in the downtown capital city of Jakarta in January 14, 2016. The first impression was that the terrorist’s strategy on crafting widespread peoples’ anxiety and fear has successfully been launched, and soon it would be buoyed up by escalating world news coverage on the incident of the attack.


The following day, as I expected, many friends and colleagues here in Geneva expressed sympathy and condolences to me regarding the incident with the hope that the Government could soon successfully arrest the culprit. It was just customary and nothing was so special about expressing sympathy on such a tragedy. However, I was a bit arrogant in responding to their sympathy by saying that everything would be just fine. My expression was that, “We get used to it. Dealing with terrorism and terrorist attack is of our expertise!”


I was not exaggerated for saying that neither did I underestimate the attack. Having been successful in combating terrorism so far, Indonesia has been reputable for dealing with such kind of attack. It is on the government responsibility to take such action. As a matter of fact, necessary measures have been taken by the police and security officers on the ground. The more important issue, which is supposed to be on everybody’s concerns, actually, is on the so-called social and psychological impact of the attack. How to make people stay calm and not terrified while at the same time being more aware and alert.


Who is to blame? Nobody is to blame, but the terrorist. It is not on the people’s side nether that of the Government. As long as the people are concerned, in dealing with this kind tragedy, what is urgently needed is to stay calm, be more alert, as well as be well-informed and knowledgeable on what really happened. Having such a common understanding and collective perception on how to react to the incident is very essential. We have that already and need to keep it in mind.


It took me by surprise to observe that what people reacted was in such a way that any country could learn in dealing with terrorism. Self-resilience and common perception were there getting along in one voice claiming that the terrorists failed to spread horror in the biggest Muslim country of Indonesia. A people peculiar resilience in countering terrorism has been generated as an option in dealing with an international security issue, if I may say.


Jokes on Social Media


Indonesia is among the countries having the world’s biggest social media users. Spreading out information in a very effective and quick manner occurs every day that make people well-informed, more knowledgeable and get-connected. Soon after the attack, on the same day, news on the incident in a real time basis was then widespread all over the country, and even the world. Everybody using social media seemed to be ready to be overwhelmed by abundant incoming messages on the attack. It came to pass quite intensively that incoming messages on the attack flowed in.



On the narrative parts, all the incoming messages I received were quite similar containing the aspects of “5W and 1H” news patterns. While on the visual parts, some terrifying pictures were there supplying the messages telling me on some dead bodies, an injured police officer as well as on the surrounding street situation. As it normally happens to the sharing information flows in the social media, it could take for a couple of days to have similar messages. I was ready for that to happen.


The following day, quite unusual, there were only a few incoming similar information were flowing in afterwards. Instead, there came some “strange” warning messages with regard to the incident. The message told everybody for not spreading any terrifying pictures regarding the incident considering that it could create people’s fear and panic. It is of the interest of the culprit that the attack would bring about escalating public fear and panic. As long as we stay away of fear and panic, terrorist could not claim it action(s) a damned successful.


This kind of message eventually became a successful people’s act in combating terrorism, in terms of social and psychological impacts. Slowly but sure, there were no more terrifying stories nor analytical narrative contained in the subsequent messages spreading. It quickly turned into internet humor as more pictures from the scene went viral. The social media started to spread messages on making jokes and comical caricatures of the terrorist attack. But the message remained the same: the terrorists failed to spread horror in the ever defiant capital.


Other peoples should learn


I really enjoy myself observing what really happen to the Indonesian cyber community. The incident that supposed to be a tragedy has been successfully turned into many joking stories. They show resilience by making many entertaining jokes of tragedy. They make fun of calling the terrorist as stupid and damned idiot people for executing their order of attack in the wrong place. One of the funny side of the messages either in the form of pictures or written one read that “You are really a damned idiot guy.. you were actually asked to go to Suriah, not to Sarinah....!”


Many caricatures also widespread in the media, jokingly describe various situations in which terrorist involved. There was a selfie on a woman standing passionately side by side with a terrorist-like guy in the attack area. The other also came a picture describing so many local vendors coming and scattered around the location taking advantage of the ‘festivity’ created by the terrorist attack. While the others were varied, from a picture exposing a fake military man holding a gun made of banana’s rods stands alert for any possible terrorist attack until the one exposing a pamphlet with a warning words inside, written as “We fight against terrorist.. We are not afraid of you..!!”


There are still many pictures expressing people resilience in many different peculiar ways using social media. It is not other than symbolizing our unity and solidity. How can we learn? Are we so silly? Not at all. It is our way of expressing a serious challenge to any terrorist on this entire planet.

Not convincing? Just try us. You would simply just feel tired and get very exhausted dealing with us.


(Geneva, January 16, 2016)



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