My Beautiful Indonesia: The First Impression

I've been here in Indonesia for almost seven months now, and there are some major differences and minor differences and, of course, similarities between this country and the United States. But the most startling of the major differences is that Indonesian youth actively discourage each other from being:


1) passionate
2) angry

3) emotional
4) disappointed
5) basically showing any strong emotion

Indonesian youth have a very strong tendency to dismiss all of these things as being "baper," which I guess has become a catch-all term for "sensitive". I've heard from more than one person my age that I shouldn't be "overthinking things"--why overthink when you can just live life freely, without worries? I mean, they've said it right out: "Rin, why are you thinking so much about this? There's no point in thinking too much about anything; it'll just give you a headache." Contrast this with so many American youth (not just my friends) who are always thinking /more/. In fact, they'd go to war for the right to think freely. They're always striving to do better and greater. These kids go home and they cry or they sing or they write poetry or music, they read books or work on Web comics or do their own research about social trends. So many of them. They're passionate, they get angry, they fight for their beliefs, they get out on the Internet and write angry diatribes--not at the object of their crush but at the government/parents/other students. American youth are engaged in their society and strive hard to have a voice even though adults try to shut them down much the same way adults shut down youth here. They are not afraid because they know that the world is their birthright, so they are starting early to make their inheritance a good one. They defend their voice. Indonesian youth...don't. They dismiss the horrible things going on in the world as someone else's responsibility, seemingly forgetting that they will inherit Indonesia the way the kids abroad will inherit the United States. And all of you, all of us: we are inheriting the world. Why aren't we trying to make it better?


If there was a motto for the Indonesian youth of today, I feel like it would be "don't be baper." And frankly, I don't understand it. Why are youth actively discouraging each other from these things? Isn't the whole hallmark of youth to be young, vibrant, emotional, and ecstatically alive? Being here in this culture has been hard. People always say I care too much. So many kids practice this cold detachment from what they love, whether it be music, science, family, or friends. Friends in Indonesia are less of a platonic love bond/support system than a tool to PAP of on ask.fm. All of this serves to highlight the Indonesian spirit of fear and silence. Truthfully Indonesia actually has a brilliant people and culture and arguably has the richest culture out of all the world's countries, but all of that is being destroyed by:

1) a government who doesn't care enough about culture to protect it
2) the messages we are sending to Indonesian youth

3) the messages Indonesian youth are sending to each other (I'm looking at you, galau LINE accounts who only talk about romance)

So many people in America don't even know anything about Indonesia. The most they know about is Bali, which, as we all know, is a big fat waste of Indonesian culture that turns our heritage into cheap commodities that will be brought home, placed on the kitchen table, and used as "kitschy home decor." Is that it? Is that all Indonesia is destined for?? Why is being carefree and "whatevs" so in vogue here??? Why don't you love your country? Why don't you support your youth in creating beautiful things? All of those things that your kids are striving so hard to create--art, poetry, music, engineering projects--those things are being lost abroad to Germany and the States and everywhere else because you don't value what they believe in and as a result neither do they. This whole "whatevs" culture permeates every single layer of Indonesian society and it terrifies me.
Your youth have an abhorrent fear of being angry or having any emotions in general, which is probably why they turn to romance and love as an outlet for the anger, passion, and frustration they can't otherwise display. So many of you are cold robots who only have time for yourselves and it's just baffling. I might be an idiot but at least I believe in something and fight for things with all my heart. Where the hell are your hearts??? I've never met such a dejected, lifeless, robotic group of people before.