ELIZABETH SOELISTIO WRITES – As one of the fastest growing internet users among its Southeast Asian neighbors, Indonesians never fail to surprise the world with their use of social media. This goes especially for the first presidential vlog of Indonesia’s President, Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.
On February 4, President Jokowi, one of the many active Facebook users in Indonesia, began uploading 3 video blogs, or “vlogs,” to his Facebook and YouTube accounts as a way to communicate with his people through social media.
In comparison to the number of global internet users increasing by 8% every year, Indonesia alone has surpassed that number by almost 3 times. By the beginning of 2017, Indonesia became one of the fastest growing nations of internet users with a 51% annual growth rate.
Though the average Indonesian doesn’t spend as much time on the internet per day compared to those in the Philippines, Indonesia comes in the 4th place for the largest number of active Facebook users after Brazil, India, and United States.
Jokowi uploaded his first vlog to Facebook before heading to Sleman, Yogyakarta, to attend a soccer match. The first vlog’s caption reads, “20 soccer teams are playing at 2017 Presidential Cup. Who are you rooting for?”
Jokowi’s vlog showed him standing in front of the presidential plane while encouraging his people to watch and support Indonesia’s soccer teams.
Another vlog showed the inside of the stadium with Jokowi personally holding the phone to record himself. The vlog was uploaded with caption of “My vlog from 2017 Presidential Cup. Fun and festive.”
Though this is the first time for an Indonesian president to vlog, this is not the first time for a head of state to use social media for communication. There is, for example, the head of a well-known nation in North America whose new President can hardly keep his fingers off the Twitter button
Dr. Michael Genovese, a distinguished Loyola Marymount University Political Science Professor and head and founder of LMU’s Institute for Leadership, commented, “As social media changes and becomes more a part of our lives, politicians are trying to keep ahead of the curve and reach voters and citizens ‘where they live’.”
When asked about the origin of social media usage among politicians, Genovese replied with “Since the late 90s, we’ve seen a more savvy use of social media by leaders.”
So far, the reaction to Jokowi’s vlogs has been muted but seemingly positive with many viewers wishing the president well on his new venture. On the popular news site Reddit, it was noted that Jokowi’s son is currently a blogger so perhaps the whole family will one day get in on the act.
One can only hope this will prove a big plus.