“…A Pragmatist with Few Strong Opinions.”


The Internet offers a lot of social attitude or psychological whatsoever test almost in every of its corners, but this one that is (stated to be) based on the works of Hans Eysenck is peculiarly accurate and satisfying. The most convenient part is that it has the consistency and clarity that other tests have failed to serve me so far. And turns out my political profile appears to be showing the same signs that are usually associated with a university professor.

"A Pragmatist with Few Strong Opinions"

                                                             “A Pragmatist with Few Strong Opinions”

Just How Different the American and the British English Actually Are


I came across a very “interesting” story a few days ago, in which the author—let’s just call her Miss Sillyseems disturbingly confident that the only difference between the British English and the American English is the accent. My initial reaction was simply a smirk, but as I went on to read all the stories Miss Silly shares on her blog and the only thing that I can assume after doing so is that Miss Silly must be trapped in a deep deep denial over her regrets and failure in live or that she simply lives in a fantasy world where she is the manifestation of the word “perfect”.

As a—self-proclaimed—nice guy, I have only been sharing my thoughts on Miss Silly with certain people. And to my surprise, everyone seems to be getting the same idea just by reading all her stories. On a more extreme note, I think the conversation even reached to the point where the conclusion was that there’s a very high probability that she is delusional. Or suicidal. You decide.

As much as I think that it would be a lot more fun to ruthlessly destroy Miss Silly’s little fantasy, I am considerably still a decent person; which is why I’m taking this chance to elaborate on something that will be more helpful and informative for my readers (assuming I have any).

So I was tweeting about Miss Silly (on a highly subtle choice of words, of course) and I got several responses that somehow managed to see the better sides of my satire.

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My guess is that Miss Silly consumes way too much movies instead of books that can actually enlighten her fantasy world. I seriously have never met anyone who is as obnoxious, as delusional, and—in my own definition—as misguided as her. It’s not that I am such an evil arrogant jerk, but Miss Silly is beyond my wildest fantasy of denial. I think she might have some sort of identity issue in the sense that she doesn’t feel like she is recognized for her accomplishment (she does have some, though) as much as she wants it to be. But I’m no psychologist, so you can just ignore the assumption.

I don’t want to bore you with anymore trashy-talks about Miss Silly, so let’s get to the real deal. Is the only difference between the British English (BE) and the American English (AE) is the accent?

The answer is, obviously, no. Big big no. Anyone who is convinced otherwise should really stop for a minute to learn more before making a fool of themselves.

Before I go on, let me make it clear to you that language is not a subject that anyone will be able to fully comprehend. Not even God (if there’s any). Grammar can’t even explain certain aspects of language, specifically English in this case, mostly because it evolves within an abstract environment. There has never been a universal agreement on whether it should be “there are a lot of things” or “there is a lot of things” simply because everyone defends any which they believe to be true and the logic is often acceptable. I have never liked it to be elaborating on how I understand English as a second language mostly because I don’t really understand it as much as people seem to think I do (and I do have some very reasonable reasons to say so).

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Image Source: LSIA Lessons

Since I was asked by some followers (on Twitter) to elaborate on how different BE and AE are, I can only provide answers that I know of. I cannot guarantee that this is a complete list of their differences, but I’m pretty sure that it’s elaborated enough. I just hope that more people would pay some extra times to at least get their facts straight before publicly embarrassing themselves by saying something in a very convinced manners when they cannot be more wrong.

Image Source: Ones Word Online

I personally mix the usage of both varieties a lot simply because it is painfully excruciating to stick to either one especially when English is not your first language. The least thing I can do is just to acknowledge the differences between them. Please do note that I have tried to make the list as simple as possible to avoid confusion and this is not, again, I repeat, a comprehensive list. I also have to say that most differences between BE and AE are just a matter of what’s more common and what’s less common rather than what’s more correct and what’s less correct.

  • The spelling differences are the most common ones that often cause confusion.
    • Words that end with “-our” (BE) and “-or” (AE). Examples: colour/color, flavour/flavor, rumour/rumor, neighbour/neighbor, humour/humor, honour/honor. Exceptions: contour, velour, paramour, troubadour.
    • Words that end with “-re” (BE) and “-er” (AE). Examples: centre/center, fibre/fiber, theatre/theater, calibre/caliber. Exceptions: words that end with “-cre” such as massacre, acre, mediocre.
    • Words that end with “-ce” (BE) and “-se” (AE). Examples: advice/advise, device/devise, licence/license, defence/defense, offence/offense, pretence/pretense.
    • Words that end with “-ise” (BE) and “-ize” (AE). Examples: organise/organize, recognise/recognize, realise/realize. Exceptions: advise, devise, disguise, exercise, televise, incise. etc.
    • Words that end with “-yse” (BE) and “-yze” (AE).Examples: analyse/analyze, hydrolyse/hydrolyze, catalyse/catalyze, paralyse/paralyze.
    • Words that end with “-ogue” (BE) and “-og” (AE).Examples: catalogue/catalog, demagogue/demagog, synagogue/synagog, analogue/analog, dialogue/dialog, pedagogue/pedagog, monologue/monolog.
    • Words that end with “-ae” or “-oe” (BE) and “-e” (AE). Examples: anaemia/anemia, anaesthesia/anesthesia, encyclopaedia/encyclopedia, leukaemia/leukemia, oesophaus/esophagus, archaelogy/archeology, haemophilia/hemophilia, oestrogen/estrogen, palaentology/paleontology, paediatric/pediatric, etc.
    • Doubled consonants are present both in BE and AE. Please refer to this Vivian Cook article for further explanations.
    • Dropped “e” are also present both in BE and AE. Please refer to this Pearson Education article for further explanations.
    • Different spellings for different meanings, such as: dependant/dependent, enquiry/inquiry, disc/disk, ensure/insure, insurance/assurance, matt/matte, programme/program, tonne/tone  (BE/AE).
    • Different spellings for different pronunciations, such as: aeroplane/airplane, arse/ass, moustache/mustache, mummy/mommy, whilst/while, pyjamas/pajamas, speciality/specialty (BE/AE).
    • Miscellaneous spelling differences, such as vise/vice, annexe/annex, artefact/artifact, grey/gray, liquorice/licorice, omelette/omelet (BE/AE).
    • Compounds and hyphens, present in both variants, such as: any more/anymore, for ever/forever, near by/nearby (Please note that every time/everytime is not a case. Every time is the correct spelling whilst everytime is simply a common error.)
    • Acronyms and Abbreviations. Examples (BE/AE): Dr/Dr., Ms/Ms., Mrs/Mrs., Jr/Jr., St/St., Ave/Ave.
    • Punctuation. Single quatation marks (She is my ‘friend with benefits’) is more common in BE but double quotation marks (She is my “friend with benefits”) is more common in AE.
  • In BE, putting an “and” between a set of numbers when spoken is the correct way to say it. In AE, the “and” is considered unnecessary. Therefore, both “two thousand and three” (BE) and “two thousand three” (AE) are correct.
  • I was born on 14-09-1992 or “[the] fourteenth of September” (BE). I was born on 09-14-1992 or “September [the] Fourteen” (AE). Some exceptions may happen for certain dates. The independence day of the United States, for example, is widely referred to as the fourth of July” (BE) instead of “July fourth” (AE). The same thing happens to the September 11 attack, which is generally known as 9/11 or the “September eleventh” (AE) attack worldwide, including in the UK where it should be the “eleventh of September” (BE).
  • The 24-hour time format is commonly used in BE, but not in AE where the 12-hour time format is more common.
  • The wedding is on 10.15, spoken as “a quarter past ten” (more common in BE) or “a quarter after ten” (more common in AE).
  • The Civil Wars are a country-folk duo (BE). The Civil Wars is a country-folk duo (AE).
  • I’m not sure how to group the difference between BE and AE when it comes to the past and past principle tenses of certain verbs. To make it easy, here are some examples of which is more common and which is less common on both variants: smelt, leapt, dreamed, leaned, dwelt, knelt, learned (BE) and smelled, leapt, burnt, dreamt, leaned, dwelled, kneeled (AE). The “t” endings were widely used by older American texts, but is now rarely—if not never—used any longer. I would like to emphasize that none forms should be valued as correct or incorrect. Some are just more common than the others, vice versa. Due to the very high complexity, I strongly recommend anyone who is interested to know more about the preference towards regular and/or irregular forms in BE and AE to learn more elsewhere since I am not going to elaborate further. What I mean by this is, for instance, both fit and fitted or lit and lighted are used in AE but in different senses.
  • You have got to go to school” is more common in BE, but not in AE where “You have to go to school” is more common though the use of “got” is also common as an emphasis on the modal of necessity.
  • Taylor Swift sings the song “I’d lie” and Trisha Yearwood sings the song “You would’ve loved me anyway.” Shortening “I would” and “would have” are common in the US (AE) but is considered colloquial in the UK though some may be accepted when used in counterfactual conditions like when Florence + the Machine sings “…and would you leave me If I told you what I’d become…” on one of my favorite song from their sophomore album, “No Light, No Light” (BE).
  • She has already gone to the airport” is more common in BE. “She already went to the airport” is more common in AE. It is true, indeed, that the present perfect tense is more preferred in BE while simple past tense is more preferred in AE. Other sentences that comply with this preference: “I have taken the chances and failed” (BE) and “I took the chances and failed” (AE).
  • “I shall kill you for badmouthing my mother” or “I shan’t steal from anyone” (BE). “I will  (am going to) kill you for badmouthing my mother” or “I won’t (am not going to) steal from anyone” (AE).
  • “I write to my mom” (BE). “I write my mom” (AEl not acceptable in BE). This is a subject of transitivity. Please refer to this Linguistic Mystic article for further explanations.
  • “I started to have nightmares since the accident” or “I stopped her from making a fool of herself” (BE). “I started having nightmares since that accident” and “I stopped her making a fool of herself” (AE). This is a subject of complementation. Please refer to this Furman University article for further explanations.
  • Now this is a very interesting case for an IR student like me. Anyone who is observant enough should’ve noticed that the American often use the preposition “of” while the British prefer not to have any prepositions at all when naming their legislative acts or documents. See “The Declaration of Independence of 1776” (AE) and “The 1917 Balfour Declaration” (BE).
  • As with dates, AE and BE differ a lot on when to use or when to not use the definite article “the“. Please refer to this English Stack Exchange article for further explanations.
  • “David Cameron, the UK Prime Minister…” (BE). “Prime Minister Cameron is the UK head of government.” (AE)
  • Sat is often used to cover all sat, sitting, and seated in BE, but not in AE. “I’ve been sat here all day” (BE). “I’ve been sitting here all day” (AE).
  • The use of “an” before a word that begins with an unstressed “h” is only common in BE. An hotel, an historical finding, an hallucination, an hilarious joke (BE). A hotel, a historical finding, a hallucination, a hilarious joke (AE).
  • “He’s so cynical towards my works” (BE) “He’s so cynical toward my works (AE). Towards” is considered more definitive than “toward” in a directional sense.
  • BE freely adds the suffix “-er” as in “footballer” while “football player” is more common in AE. If the noun could work as a verb as well, then both AE and BE adds the suffix as in “golfer” (to golf), “shooter” (to shoot), “painter” (to paint), but not in “baseball player” because there is no “to baseball” (verb).
  • Unlike AE, BE does not distinguish non-restrictive and restrictive modifiers. “The house which we bought last year was damaged by the tornado” (BE). “The house, which we bought last year, was damaged by the tornado” (AE).
  • No fear” in BE is similar to “No way!” in AE  “I don’t mind” in BE is similar to “I don’t care” in AE. This is a subject of figure of speech. Please refer to this About.com article for further explanations.
  • “I am enrolled on the Global Economy class” (BE). “I am enrolled in the Global Economy class” (AE). “Bastian Schweinsteiger plays in Bayern Munich” (BE). “Bastian Schweinsteiger plays on Bayern Munich (AE). “I am affiliated with/to the production company” (BE). “I am affiliated with the production company” or “I am an affiliate of the production company” (AE). These all are the subject of prepositions and adverbs. Please refer to this English Practice article for more examples.
  • The River Thames (BE). The Mississippi River (AE).

There are still many other differences between both variants, but I don’t feel like listing them all here. It would really take a lot of time to do so and I can only spend so much time focused on one single article.

If you found any mistake or simply want to give a feedback, just leave a comment.■

The 2013 Eurovision in Malmö: Året for det Danske Folk


I have a very broad range of taste in music. I literally listen to anything as long as it does not sound like Rebecca Black or a dying cockroach; which explains why Eurovision is one of those shows I spend every single year waiting for, including this year.

Overall, I’m pretty satisfied with this year’s 39 entries. At least there was no “Euro Neuro” in Malmö, though I get mad a lot more than last year. Well… let’s just say that I don’t find Farid Mammadov’s silly “Hold Me” or Cezar’s “It’s My Life”—which sounds like gibberish—are Eurovision materials. Surprisingly, the former song even managed to claim the second spot, which was a total disappointment for me. And let’s not forget how Despina Olympiou and Moran Mazor didn’t even make it to the final. I was totally outraged.

After all, it does not really matter anymore who I think was the rightful winner. Emmelie de Forest was not my favorite, but I did see her victory coming. “Only Teardrops” is just so Eurovision-esque. Anyway, congratulations, Danske Folk, for winning this year’s contest and have fun hosting the show next year.

So, here are my personal rankings of this year’s contest.

*My Ranking. (Actual Ranking) “Song Title” by Singer (Country) — Comment*

  1. (7) “L’essenziale” by Marco Mengoni (Italy) — This song is a perfect ballad to be the ultimate winner of Eurovision. I know this isn’t the typical song to win, but it definitely has some magic that makes me keep clicking the play button again and again and again. Just like Nina Zilli last year, Mengoni should’ve finished better. It really is the best song from the contest this year. Maybe Italy should try sending an English song next year. I am starting to wonder if all Italian singers sang flawlessly. Andrea Bocelli, Laura Pausini, Marco Borsato, Nina Zilli, Eros Ramazzotti… Damn!
  2. (23) “L’enfer et Moi” by Amandine Bourgeois (France) — After last year’s disappointing result for France with Anggun, I really wish that justice ruled this year. Turned out justice does not belong in Eurovision. The song is a masterpiece and it was a real pleasure to have blues rock had its chance on the show. I guess people would need more time to get used to Bourgeois’ striking talent.
  3. (38) “Aν με θυμάσαι” by Despina Olympiou (Cyprus) — I can’t even think of how to begin with this one. This is absolutely one of the best ballads Eurovision has ever had in years. Olympiou’s voice is so calming. How she controls her tone is impressive. That it didn’t even make the cut for the final was stupid, annoying, idiotic, shocking, and definitely the worst decision made this year.
  4. (19) “Believe in Me” by Bonnie Tyler (United Kingdom) — I am truly ashamed to admit that I have never heard of this International First Lady of Rock (Wikipedia told me so). I truly am; which is why I thank Eurovision a lot for exposing her strong vocal to me. If it is any consolation, you’ve gained one more enthusiastic fan despite not winning the contest, Milady.
  5. (10) “Kedvesem (Zoohacker Remix)” by ByeAlex (Hungary) — It took me quite some times to like the song; mainly because I don’t understand Hungarian. But once it got into me, I can’t even stop listening to it. Tenth place was a fair result though seeing some songs that ranked above it convinced me that it deserved better.
  6. (32) “רק בשבילו” by Moran Mazor (Israel) — I have tried to dislike the song for what the Israeli right-wing-dominated government are doing to the people of Palestine. The occupation, the violence, the injustice, the bloodbath, the cruelty, all the bad things they do. But it is a fact that some people in the Jewish nation are braver than most of the country to stand up to their government’s cruelty. But then again, I shouldn’t refrain from liking Mazor and her amazing talent for what she may or may not have anything to do with. Though I do find the music video a little bit weird and out of place, the song deserved to be in the final. I guess it was not clear for the voters and judges that Eurovision is a song contest, not some sort of camouflaged political stage.
  7. (14) “You” by Robin Stjernberg (Sweden) — The song is just great. I like it even better than “Euphoria”. I guess this is just not the year for a dance song to shine. Stjernberg’s rhythmic vocal on the “You” part totally makes the song even more infectious.
  8. (3) “Gravity” by Злата Огневич (Ukraine) — I was going to put her way up for delivering a very strong vocal performance with a very glorious lyrics, but I can’t get over that unnatural sudden move from ballad to mid-tempo at 00:45. It really started as a very great song and then for five to ten seconds, I make these weird expressions. “What the hell just happened!??
  9. (31) “Игранка” by Who See (Montenegro) — No matter what people are saying, for me the song is a very daring choice for a Eurovision entry. Dubstep? Seriously? But it works for me. I love the drum and bass and the female vocalist on the chorus. It might have not made the final, but it totally changed how I see the Montenegrin music scene after Rambo Amadeus almost ruined the show last year.
  10. (1) “Only Teardrops” by Emmelie de Forest (Denmark) — It was rather predictable that this song was going to win. I enjoy the song, but there’s something off with the lyrics that I can’t quite figure out. At least the silver lining is that had this song not win, Azerbaijan would’ve won again. I don’t know how they manage to be on the top 5 each year (Safura’s “Drip Drop” was great, though) but it’d better stop because it’s starting to ruin the show for me.
  11. (4) “I Feed You My Love” by Margaret Berger (Norway) — The song combines electropop and a little bit of alternative rock; which is a great thing. I would prefer the tempo to be a bit faster though. I hope Berger makes some appearance in the international music scene. She really seems like an interesting person.
  12. (11) “O Mie” by Aliona Moon (Moldova) — The song sounds a lot like some ’90s records from Nike Ardilla with the high-pitch but I love the intensity.
  13. (25) “Constigo Hasta El Final” by El Sueño de Morfeo (Spain) — Well, I do happen to have a thing for folk song. And this is a folk song. A good one, to be specific. It somehow sounds both fun and sad at the same time for me.
  14. (6) “Alcohol Is Free” by Koza Mostra featuring Agathon Iakovidis (Greece) — I have been really bored with the Greek entries for years now, but this song ended the streak. It didn’t really sound that good at first, but I have come to like its comical sense.
  15. (9) “Birds” by Anouk (Netherlands) — I love her personality on stage and her voice is somewhat quirky for me. Had she brought a song that showcases her talent more with a more climactic performance, she might have been able to do better.
  16. (30) “You and Me” by Takasa (Switzerland) — I love the sense of folk this song offers. Should I even bother to elaborate on how this song should’ve made it to the final?
  17. (15) “Waterfall” by Nodi Tatishvili & Sophie Gelovani (Georgia) — Apparently, Georgia does have some great singers. The song is a strong ballad and I’m glad to see them performed in the final. Fifteenth place was not bad, but they could’ve finished better had they didn’t get to perform second to last.
  18. (21) “Glorious” by Cascada (Germany) — While it does sound too much “Euphoria”-esque, I beg to differ that the song is a cheap imitation. It might not be the best song I’ve heard from Cascada (nothing will ever take that distinction from “Everytime We Touch”), but it does make me want to sing-along and feel like dancing. What can I say? The song is infectious and, sure, glorious.
  19. (20) “Et Uus Saaks Alguse” by Birgit Õigemeel (Estonia) — Birgit is such a sweetheart and she sings like an angel. I’m quite surprised that it ended up on the 20th spot with a saddening 19 points, but it does happen in Eurovision. Sometimes you just wonder how this is a song contest with all the “Since we’re neighbor, let’s just vote for each other” and lack of transparency.
  20. (17) “Ég á Líf” by Eyþór Ingi Gunnlaugsson (Iceland) — Iceland has always been the home to some of my most favorite acts in music. Sigur Rós, Of Monsters and Men, Björk, and Rökkurró are only a few to name. And this song kind of let me down.
  21. (5) “What If” by Дина Гарипова (Russia) — Russia has always appeared on my top 10 favorite each year (except last year’s “Party for Everybody” which I just can’t afford to like) but this song really sounds like Sarah Connor’s “Skin by Skin”. Let’s just say that I’m not impressed by the same thing twice a lot. Just a little bit more love. Just a little bit more passion. This is how it should begin. Skin on skin.
  22. (35) “Пред да се Pаздени” by Ezma Redzepova & Lorenzo (Macedonia) — The song might have not made the semifinal cuts, but it was an interesting song to listen to, especially Redzepova’s voice.
  23. (12) “Love Kills” by Roberto Bellarosa (Belgium) — All there is to say is that it’s a nice song with a little bit trace of pop punk and it did deserve the 71 points it received, but not more.
  24. (29) “Само шампиони” by Elitsa Todorova & Stoyan Yankulov (Bulgaria) — Now this is what I call a fun song. The Indian elements of the music totally makes the song sounds better than it could’ve been without it. Too bad it didn’t even make it to the final.
  25. (28) “Љубав Jе cвуда” by Moje 3 (Serbia) — Serbia has always been one of the strongest contenders since they first competed as a lone nation back in 2007 with Marija Serifovic’s Molitva. I guess they didn’t see this coming. Maybe they should keep sending ballads over ballads each year. Seems like up-tempo rhythm doesn’t fall under their specialties.
  26. (22) “Something” by Andrius Pojavis (Lithuania) — He sounds a lot like Brandon Flowers. The song lacks a climax, but still enjoyable.
  27. (18) “Lonely Planet” by Dorians (Armenia) — I like the song because it reminds me of old rock songs from Genesis or Foreigners. I even like it more for the message it delivers. Lonely planet, we have done it, we can save it, we can stop it. I guess it deserved better than 41 points.
  28. (37) “Here We Go” by PeR (Latvia) — The song does not sound like something the Eurovision voters would favor, but I applaud the duo for bringing beat-box to the contest. It does sound too generic, though.
  29. (8) “Tomorrow” by Gianluca Bezzina (Malta) Hey soul sister, ain’t that mister mister on the radio, stereo; the way you move ain’t fair you know. Hey soul sister, I don’t wanna miss a single thing you do tonight. Well…
  30. (33) “Mižerja” by Klapa s Mora (Croatia) — The song is weirdly anticlimactic, but it does have some potentials to be more than just decent.
  31. (36) “Shine” by Natália Kelly (Austria) — Though the lyrics are kind of too generic, Kelly sings it nicely. I’m not sure whether I would have it in the final or not (mostly because it competed on semifinal 1 which was tougher), but I do enjoy the song.
  32. (16) “Solayoh” by Alyona Lanskaya (Belarus) — It is an interesting song but I feel like I’ve heard this kind of song like a thousand times or so.
  33. (39) “Straight into Love” by Hannah (Slovenia) — I’m glad how dubstep has made its way into Eurovision, but Hannah just didn’t try hard enough. The song is boring mainly because she keeps screaming straight into looove~ way too much.
  34. (24) “Marry Me” by Krista Siegfrids (Finland) — I don’t really get how this song is a Eurovision material. The genre, the music, the singer, and obviously the lyrics don’t work out for me. But it did make this year’s show even more intriguing since bubblegum pop doesn’t make it to the contest a lot, let alone the final.
  35. (34) “Identitet” by Adrian Lulgjuraj & Bledar Sejko (Albania) — It is quite an interesting song, but it does not strike me as special as I would love a Eurovision entry to be. And it’s hard to enjoy the song with its rock elements that I find a little bit disparate from the lyrics. Unlike Rona Nishliu’s “Suus” last year, I don’t get how this song represents Albania musically.
  36. (27) “Crisalide (Vola)” by Valentina Monetta (San Marino) — I was expecting a great song from Monetta. The buzz was making me anxious in addition to her being the top 5 on the official fan-voting prior to the show. But she let me down.
  37. (26) “Only Love Survives” by Ryan Dolan (Ireland) — This song ends before I even get to enjoy a second of it. Ireland sent the wrong song this year.
  38. (2) “Hold Me” by Farid Mammadov (Azerbaijan) — Safura, Ell & Nikki, and Sabina Babayeva all make me growing some interest on Azerbaijan music scene, but this Mammadov guy totally killed it. The lyrics sound sooooo generic and he definitely sings like an amateur. Didn’t deserve the 2nd place, didn’t deserve the final, didn’t even deserve to represent the fire nation.
  39. (13) “It’s My Life” by Cezar (Romania) — This is it. Needless to say, the 2013 version of another Rambo Amadeus. Even the dubstep fusion can’t help his over-the-head-high-pitch. Listening to him singing for 3 minutes and 2 seconds is an absolute torment. And what’s even worse? That the song amazingly advanced to the final and ranked higher than Amandine Bourgeois, Bonnie Tyler, Robin Stjernberg, and pretty much all the 26 better singers and songs. Total madness.

Now please don’t start getting mad at me if you feel like you can’t agree with my list. Let’s just agree to disagree.■

Making Sense of Presstitution: Embedded Journalism during the US 8-Year Invasion in Iraq


In a world where everyone cannot help themselves for being curious of whatever is happening around them, the existence of media is significantly crucial. Not only that people have become more and more dependent for the media to provide them with information from time to time, but also in the sense that media now plays a very pivotal role to shape the public perception of pretty much everything, even during the times of war and conflict. This paper criticizes the involvement of global media through embedded journalism during the United States invasion in Iraq from 2003 to 2011 in order to answer the ultimate question: was the media still telling the truth as it is supposed to or had it become merely a means of propaganda for the military to justify and help them win the war by controlling the public perception?

Presstitution(Image Source: Zazzle)

The world that we know today is not the world that it was once. Ever since the September 11 tragedy happened back then in 2001, the world has gone through a lot of dramatic changes. With the Al-Qaeda terror group in mind as the perpetrator behind the attack, George Walker Bush—then US president—immediately declared the War on Terror as his boldest yet defining policy for the world, not just the United States. Following his campaign of the War on Terror, Bush created several allegations (Bush 2002) that the Al-Qaeda was receiving assistance from then Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein, to attack the United States while also allegedly conspiring to develop weapons of mass destruction.

Only months following his allegations, Bush took the world by surprise when the United States, under his reign as the commander in chief, invaded Iraq in 19 March 2003. While some people argue that the invasion was merely an act to camouflage its original intentions to occupy and take control of the oil-rich mining fields that Iraq is highly reputable for, some others believe that the invasion was actually the aftermath of Bush’ suspicions of the Iraqi involvement on the 9/11 tragedy. Though, as of now, neither the involvement of Iraqi government nor the weapons of mass destruction existence has ever been proven to be true at all.

One way or another, no matter what the true intentions behind the invasion were, the damage was already done. What appears to be even more interesting than the war itself at the moment was how the media responded so enthusiastically to the war, as if they had been waiting for it to happen. It was not until that time that the term “wartime journalism” was widely used and recognized by people all around the world. It was not until that time the media finally had the chance to define what the world was, is, and will be.

During the war in Iraq, it was rather common to see media workers sent to report information directly from the war zone. Journalists competed to acquire information that would get their audience or readers excited the most; hunting for the piece of information that was labeled as exclusive, the first-ever, and revolutionary; for which the global media struggled to keep the balance between their war coverage and censorship (Tuosto 2008, p. 21).

An estimation made by the Committee to Protect Journalists, which aims to defend the rights and safety of journalists worldwide, shows that at least 150 journalists as well as 54 media support workers were killed (Smyth 2013) during the US 8-year invasion in Iraq from March 2003 to December 2011. While this high number of casualties shows one edge of journalism that is not usually seen, it raises a new question: was it so important to gather the news directly from the war zone that, all of the sudden, journalism apparently became one of the most dangerous jobs in the history of mankind?

While there are many ways to see it, there is only one thing that was certain at the moment; that the media needed to revitalize their methods of acquiring information during the times of war to ensure the safety of their journalists and reporters. As it was hard to be granted the access to enter a war zone, the practice of embedded journalism was introduced by the US military to the media; creating a cooperation that has since been dubbed as the media-military relationship.

(Image Source: Tweedie)

Embedded journalism refers to the practice of gathering news and information by media workers who are attached or embedded to military units involved in the invasion. It was reported that at least 775 reporters and photographers were travelling in Iraq as embedded journalists only on the first few days of the invasion (Powell 2004). As part of the arrangement, embedded journalists were obliged not to report information that could compromise the unit position, future missions, classified weapons, and information that can endanger the safety of the military units (Lehrer 2003). To be eligible, all journalists embedded in Iraq were even specially trained—from November 2002, months before the invasion started—in order to make sure that those who were going to report from the war zone would not be a liability for the military units (Borger 2002). Even though it has always been debated by interdisciplinary scholars and experts as highly dangerous for both the journalists and soldiers, embedded journalism has since become a breakthrough in the practice of journalism.

While the media appeared to be very keen to provide people with information from the war zone in Iraq, the naked reality does not necessarily align with such impression. Putting aside the editing process and adjustments—which may cause the news to be misinterpreted or even taken out of context—done by the producers before news is published, the practice of embedded journalism might have caused the media to be no longer reliable as the source of information.

(Image Source: Tabula Plennus)

According to Lieutenant Colonel Rick Long, the former head of media relations for the US Marine Corps, while [the soldiers’] job was to win the war, the embedded journalists are significantly important in order to dominate the information environment (Kahn 2004). This holds true that the value of truth was greatly diminished by media agencies by practicing embedded journalism; in which the military could manipulate and control the certain ways of how the journalists see, report, and interpret events, thus inevitably became part of the military strategy to control the information environment during the invasion.

Conclusion

As the primary source of information, media ought to be impartial and truthful by telling its audience or readers the whole truth of information. The process of acquiring information during the US invasion in Iraq prompted the media workers to be choosing between exclusive information and their safety, which left a hole for the military to utilize the media for their advantages through embedded journalism. While the concept is revolutionary in a way that journalists are kept safe under the supervision of military units they are embedded to, it can be potentially damaging to the very principal purpose of the media, which is to inform people with the truth no matter how it might hurt.

Whether intended or not, embedded journalism during the US invasion in Iraq can be considered as means of political propaganda. While the embedded journalists might have not meant to obscure the truth of the war, it is the military that was being smart by controlling where the journalists go and what they could see. Unfortunately for the journalists, they might not be able to realize how the information they gathered were rather one-sided and appeared to be way too sympathetic for the Americans and less neutral for the rest of the world to see

However, the idea to provide people with information during the times of war is still noble and laudable. If only the restrictions made by the military—that potentially affect the perception of embedded journalists to be partial and misleading—allowed the journalists to still be safe but also impartial in their coverage at the same time, then embedded journalism can ultimately be the golden means of acquiring information from conflict and war zone.■

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References

Borger, Julian (2002) Flabby Journalists Sent to Boot Camp. The Guardian [Accessed 18 April 2013].

Bush, George Walker (2002) President Bush Outlines Iraqi Threat. The White House [Accessed 18 April 2013].

Kahn, Jeffery (2004) Postmortem: Iraq War Media Coverage Dazzled but It Also Obscured. UC Berkeley News [Accessed 18/04/2013].

Lehrer, Jim (2003) Pros and Cons of Embedded Journalism. Public Broadcasting Service [Accessed 18 April 2013].

Powell, Bonnie Azab (2004) Reporters, Commentators Visit Berkeley to Conduct In-Depth Postmortem of Iraq War Coverage. UC Berkeley News. [Accessed 18 April /2013].

Smyth, Frank (2013) Iraq War and News Media: A Look inside the Death Toll. Committee to Protect Journalists. [Accessed 17 April 2013].

Tuosto, Kylie (2008) The “Grunt Truth” of Embedded Journalism: The New Media-Military Relationship. Stanford Journal of International Relations, X (1), pp. 20—31.

Foreign Interventions in a Violent Search for a Democratic Middle East


Witnessing what has been going on in at least the last 65 years, it is no surprise that the world seems to think that the Middle East is somehow a lost case of prolonged conflicts and political quarrel. It is as if the Middle Eastern nations were on the brink of failing. And they were. While the instabilities might have been triggered by plenty of reasons, one of the most principal and systemic problem many Middle Eastern nations experience is the authoritarian governance as seen in Iraq, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and many others. Recent events have shown that the Middle Eastern people do not hope for the authoritarian regimes they live under to last forever at all; indicating a quest for democracy through democratization that Francis Fukuyama (Roberts 2008) once said as the ultimate form of human government. This leads well to the question that this paper is trying to address: how have foreign forces intervened the process of democratization and its aftermath in the Middle East?

(Image Source: The Jerusalem Post)

In the wake of the Arab Spring phenomenon—originated in Tunisia with its people pleading for president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to end his authoritarian regime followed by the same case in Egypt, Libya, and now Syria (Hamid 2011)—that has caught international attention, everyone has to refine their assessment towards how democracy and democratization in the Middle East can and may be performed.

What has been happening since January 2011 shall not be seen as merely another case of third-world struggle. It is instead a notably important events that might affect the way people see how important democracy is and how democratization can be both violent and nonviolent, especially in the Middle East. Even the nonconservatives (Hamid 2011) have admitted that the democratization might happen for generations for the Middle East, despite their traditional standing that opposes the notion of democratic revolution.

Understanding the democratization in the Middle East can not be done by studying the patterns of such events elsewhere. While it usually emerges as the aftermath of chronic political failure or failing economics, the Middle East does not necessarily align with this generalization as a whole. While the governments may appear to be authoritarian, the Arab Spring-affected nations have been known for their tendency toward democratic culture, which is more of an impossible mission to accomplish.

The involvement of foreign nations as well have affected democratization in the Middle East. The United States, for instance, has been significantly involved in various acts of “democratization“ for the past decade, even more after the September 11 tragedy occured back in 2001. By 2009, the level of annual US democracy aid in the Middle East was more than the total amount spent between 1991 to 2001 (Hamid 2011).

While the United States prefer to call their assistance as democracy aid, it is not necessarily meant to promote democracy in all the good ways. Their democracy aid has been known as demanding in a way that the nations where they are involved in the democratization process are then left with a new government that seems to be a potential allies for the US in the Middle East, often dubbed as the “puppet government.“

To put it based on the evidence found along the way, democratization in the Middle East can be seen both defensive but managed at the same time. Instead of establishing democracy, the process of democratization—with foreign forces like the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) armies involved—somehow appear to rather prevent democracy from taking control than to legitimize its emergence.

(Image Source: Martin Kramer)

How I came to such manner of thinking might be seen as circumstantial but can be rational at the same time. At the early stage, democratization in the Middle East is initiated by the lower to middle class of the society. At the second stage, the urge of establishing democracy clashes with the reigning authoritarian—if not dictatorial—that wish to keep their power for probably decades or even centuries. At the final stage, how the process went define what the result will be. In some cases, people revolution has prevailed, as seen in Tunisia and Egypt. In other cases, the government managed to contain the revolution and gain even more power than before the idea of democratization was unveiled.

Along the way during these three stages of democratization, several external factors play the role of interference. Foreign interventions are one of the most common extra actors, as seen in the involvement of NATO armies in Libya. But sometimes it happen to be more subtle, through the power of media and propaganda, for once, in a form of embedded journalism or even partial news making, prompting false assumptions to be made by the spectators all around the world.

Conclusion

For foreign forces to interfere in the Middle East democratization has always been explained and elaborated as merely a mission of humanity for democracy and freedom out of concern and the dream to establish a perfect democratic world. But that is not the real case at all. Not even remotely. At least not in all cases.

(Image Source: Norwegian Regjeringen)

The United States, as the power player with a long history of intervention in the Middle East region, may often be seen as a very generous nation with a big concern for the whole world to be freed from any forms of restrictions through democratization. The truth is that by being involved in the process, the United States—sometimes joined by its allies—gain much more power along the way on their involvement. In certain cases, it is even possible for them to be in control of deciding who should be governing and how the newborn democracy in the Middle Eastern nations should be run, thus putting them as an invisible power that simply takes down the authoritarian government to then replace it with a “democracy puppet” while they are the ones that call shot and make decisions for the wounded nations. In other words, democratization in the Middle East can be used by foreign nations—most of which happen to be the United States and/or its allies—as a deception to gain control over the region and possibly over its resources and fortune.■

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References

Hamid, Shadi (2011) The Struggle for Middle East Democracy: Why the Arab Street Finally Revolted. The Cairo Review of Global Affairs [Accessed 10/03/2013].

Roberts, Alasdair S. (2008) Empowerment or Discipline? Two Logics of Governmental Reform. Social Science Research Network [Accessed 22/04/2013].

On the 2015 Forthcoming ASEAN Political-Security Community


As the regional organization where emerging forces of today’s economics belong to, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) surely has several advantages to establish itself as a major power player in the global system. By maintaining its regional order, ASEAN member-states may be hoping to sustain the stability that they have succeeded to achieve for the past decade. The problem is, while it comes off as a strong economic force when combined, ASEAN does not prove to be as strong from a political-security point of view. Obviously, this has raised certain questions whether ASEAN is actually a solid organization rather than just merely a group of nations that come together by being close to each other geographically.

(Image Source: ASEAN Political-Security Community)

While ASEAN member states may not be necessarily facing the financial crisis that has been dragging several developed and powerful countries into misery, it does not mean that ASEAN is in no crisis at all. With only two years—or less—left before the 2015 due of the establishment of ASEAN Community, there has been no significant progress that the regional leaders have yet to enforce. Hoping to integrate the regional power into one strong entity, the idea of ASEAN Community incorporates the concepts of political-security, economic, and cultural communities.

Seeing how the political dynamics in Southeast Asia has been going on recently, it is crystal clear that there are at least four political-security issues that ASEAN regional leaders critically need to address above all else: human rights violation, corruption, terrorism, and territorial disputes.

It is saddening to say that ASEAN is no stranger to human rights violation. Who has not heard of the cruelty of Pol-Pot regime in Cambodia? Who has not heard of the depressing times Suharto had caused Indonesia for his repressive 32-year regime? Ultimately, who has not heard of the hard times that the people of Rohingya have to go through in their own homeland, Myanmar?

As if humanitarian violation is not enough, this regional is also known for its high rate of corruption, most notably Indonesia and the Philippines. Likewise, the threats of terrorism acts keep growing on various locations with the South China Sea dispute coming back into international attention after ­decades of a calm settlement.

Knowing how ASEAN has been facing all sorts of challenges then and now, it is quite underwhelming that in reality, nothing has been done either to prevent or to resolve any of them. As an organization that exists beyond state borders, ASEAN was established under a set of norms. The first and, probably, the most principal one is that its members are to refrain from the use of force to resolve interstate disputes (Archarya 2001, p. 48). The other principal one is that all members shall refrain from interfering with any national matters of other members, including violation of human rights (Archarya 2001, p. 58).

(Image Sources:  Change.Org)

Promoting political-security integration in the regional is a bold move for any regional organization, and the fact that ASEAN is willing to try should be appreciated. The framework of ASEAN Political-Security Community, as inscribed in its blueprint, is to “ensure the people and member states of ASEAN live in peace with one another and with the world at large in a just, democratic, and harmonious environment” (Brata 2013).

While the purpose of establishing ASEAN Political-Security Community is laudable, there have been some doubts whether the 2015 due is feasible or not. Even ASEAN’s newly appointed secretary general, Le Luong Minh, expressed his concern (Brata 2013) towards the slow progress of the ASEAN Community preparation.

From a political-security point of view, what is missing from ASEAN is the presence of a strong set of law and rules. With its doctrine or principle of non-interference, any member states are obliged to refrain themselves from interfering with others’ domestic matters regardless of the situation. Of course, this is highly problematic, but beyond it lies the image of ASEAN as a regional organization with no authority to actually coordinate, monitor, direct, and enact the policies, programs, or activities within its territory; things that the Secretariat does not appear to be capable of doing.

Apart from it, ASEAN is also missing a piece of a judicial body as the highest decision-making or deadlock breaker. ASEAN has always been known for its persistence to base any decisions taken as an organization unanimously. Not only that this has been proven to be inefficient, it has caused several cases to be left behind without any closure at all now and then. This is basically why the existence of a judicial authority is essential for the ASEAN Political-Security Community to work as it is intended to.

(Image Sources:  Change.Org)

To establish good governance in the entire region by strengthening democracy with a set of law that protects the fundamental rights of the people is essential in order for the ASEAN Political-Security Community to work out. For this purpose, ASEAN should also consider adopting conventions on anticorruption, good governance, dispute settlement, human rights, and so on. To do so, ASEAN should probably take a second look as well on how their definitions and interpretations of “sovereignty,” “non-interference,” and “regional integration” definitely need some reconsideration or even, if necessary, redefinitions.■

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References

Archarya, Amitav (2001) Constructing a Security Community in Southeast Asia: ASEAN and the Problem of Regional Order. London and New York: Routledge.

Brata, Roby Arya (2013) Building the ASEAN Political-Security Community. The Jakarta Post [Accessed 16 April 2013].

Overdosis Informasi, New Media, dan Budaya Latah dalam Politik Nasional


Indonesia boleh jadi sudah merdeka selama lebih dari 67 tahun, namun mengisi dan memaknai kemerdekaan jauh lebih sulit daripada sekadar memerolehnya. Mengisi kemerdekaan bukan hanya dilakukan dengan memeringati hari kemerdekaan, mengenang jasa para pahlawan, ataupun mempelajari sejarah bangsa melalui bangku pendidikan. Mengisi kemerdekaan hendaknya dimaknai melalui partisipasi aktif dalam mewujudkan cita-cita dan tujuan bangsa dengan tetap berhaluan pada Pancasila sebagai ideologi negara.

Dengan total populasi yang mencapai 237,641,326 jiwa (Badan Pusat Statistik 2010), di mana sekitar 32.80% di antaranya tergolong usia remaja (Badan Pusat Statistik 2011), Indonesia tentu berpotensi untuk terus berkembang menjadi bangsa yang besar melalui suatu proses pendewasaan politik terutama bagi generasi muda Sayangnya, banyak di antara kaum remaja di Indonesia yang belum memiliki idealisme sehingga mudah dipengaruhi oleh kepentingan-kepentingan yang berkembang di dalam masyarakat.

Salah satu faktor yang seringkali menjadi dilema bagi proses pendewasaan politik di Indonesia adalah kebebasan informasi yang mencuat bersamaan dengan dimulainya era reformasi. Tak pelak, semenjak itu, pertumbuhan industri media terus tak terelakkan. Setidaknya, saat ini, terdapat 829 media cetak, 11 stasiun televisi nasional, 17 stasiun televisi satelit, dan 1,188 stasiun radio (Irianto 2011) yang aktif beroperasi di Indonesia.

Banyaknya media massa yang menyediakan informasi tentunya baik bagi proses pendewasaan politik. Ketersediaan beragam sumber informasi membuat masyarakat lebih well-informed sehingga keputusan dan tindakan politik yang diambil pun didasarkan pada pertimbangan yang matang. Akan tetapi, ditambah dengan perkembangan new media, hal ini juga bisa menjadi bumerang karena masyarakat terekspos pada informasi yang tidak selalu benar dan objektif; terlebih lagi dengan keberadaan budaya latah yang kental di dalam masyarakat, terutama kaum remaja.

Revolusi Informasi di Era New Media

Dalam studi media dan komunikasi, perkembangan teknologi informasi menjadi faktor pendorong yang sangat signifikan. Apabila dulu komunikasi menuntut interaksi langsung di antara manusia atau harus melalui media yang tidak efisien, saat ini komunikasi telah menjadi jauh lebih mudah; terutama dengan dikembangkannya teknologi internet, yang bukan hanya memengaruhi proses komunikasi di dalam masyarakat, namun juga proses penyebaran informasi.

(Sumber Gambar: Fred Cavazza)

Tren yang ada di dalam masyarakat menunjukkan bahwa media massa saat ini berkembang sangat pesat melalui platform internet. Hampir seluruh media cetak, televisi, radio, maupun bentuk-bentuk media konvensional lainnya memiliki situs internet tersendiri di mana masyarakat dapat mengakses konten informasi yang ditawarkan dengan menggunakan peralatan seperti komputer maupun telepon genggam. Bahkan dalam beberapa tahun terakhir, akses terhadap informasi menjadi semakin mudah dan praktis dengan hadirnya teknologi telepon pintar (smartphone) serta komputer tablet.

Kemajuan pesat dalam bidang teknologi perangkat keras, perangkat lunak, dan internet ini membuat informasi berkembang sangat cepat di dalam masyarakat. Dengah globalisasi yang semakin menyemukan jarak-jarak geografis, peristiwa yang terjadi di kota London, Inggris, misalnya, bisa diketahui oleh orang yang tinggal di Canberra, Australia, hanya dalam hitungan detik.

Fenomena rapid flow of information ini sekiranya terjadi berkat kemunculan bentuk-bentuk media baru atau new media. Di samping situs-situs internet dari media massa, informasi juga dapat diperoleh melalui komunikasi yang semakin intens di antara masyarakat sendiri melalui hadirnya social network atau jejaring sosial. Melalui jejaring sosial, siapapun dapat menyebarkan informasi yang bisa diakses oleh banyak orang tanpa perlu melalui proses validasi sebagaimana umumnya menjadi kewajiban bagi media massa. Bentuknya yang beragam, mulai dari situs pertemanan ‘Facebook’ hingga layanan microblogging ‘Twitter’, membuat jejaring sosial menjadi primadona baru dalam berkomunikasi.

Di Indonesia sendiri, pada tahun 2012, tercatat setidaknya ada 55 juta atau 22,1% penduduk mengakses internet secara teratur; bahkan tak sedikit di antaranya mengaku kecanduan terhadap layanan jejaring sosial (Tempo 2013, h. 12). Dengan dinamika politik yang kian hari semakin nyata dampaknya bagi masyarakat,  keberadaan new media yang dapat diakses dengan begitu mudah tentunya berpengaruh secara signifikan terhadap proses pendewasaan politik di Indonesia; terlebih lagi dengan banyaknya tokoh dan pejabat publik yang ikut memanfaatkan new media ini sebagai alat berkomunikasi.

(Sumber Gambar: Young Digital Lab)

Peran jejaring sosial sebagai new media dalam peristiwa politik dapat terlihat secara signifikan dalam fenomena Arab Spring; di mana kaum muda di berbagai negara Afrika Utara dan Timur Tengah menginisiasi revolusi melalui komunikasi di layanan microblogging ‘Twiiter. Pun di Indonesia sendiri, jejaring sosial telah menjelma pilihan utama bagi masyarakat dalam berkomunikasi dan memeroleh informasi terkait current affairs yang terjadi di sekitarnya.

Budaya Latah dan Kedewasaan Berpolitik

Perkembangan new media membuka keran arus informasi yang sulit dibendung. Siapapun—tanpa dibatasi oleh intelektualitas, status sosial, profesi, ataupun indikator-indikator lainnya—dapat menyebarkan informasi baik secara sengaja maupun tidak. Meskipun memungkinkan bagi lebih banyak perspektif untuk berkembang, hal ini turut menimbulkan kekhawatiran akan terbentuknya persepsi yang keliru dalam memahami peristiwa atau isu yang berkembang.

Bahwasanya kaum remaja saat ini jauh lebih kritis dalam menanggapi dinamika politik bukanlah sekadar opini kosong belaka. Di samping karena pembangunan yang kian pesat, arus informasi yang bebas (free flow of information) yang menjadi salah satu pilar utama proses reformasi pemerintahan turut berandil dalam membangun kekritisan kaum remaja. Sayangnya, kekritisan ini rentan disetir oleh kepentingan-kepentingan tertentu dikarenakan oleh kebingungan yang muncul akibat terlalu banyak informas yang diterima.

Di dalam masyarakat Indonesia sendiri, cenderung berkembang budaya latah di mana masyarakat dengan mudah mengamini atau mengiyakan apa saja yang diterima sebagai informasi dari sumber yang belum tentu memiliki kredibilitas. Dengan kondisi perpolitikan nasional yang saat ini begitu ramai dengan penyelewengan kekuasaan oleh pejabat publik bahkan juga oleh penegak hukum, tentunya kepercayaan masyarakat terhadap pemerintah mengalami degradasi yang begitu drastis; terlebih dengan keberadaan new media yang membuat kaum remaja menjadi rentan terhadap informasi yang tidak akurat, penuh pretensi dan subjektivitas, serta sarat kepentingan.

Budaya latah di dalam masyarakat juga mengancam proses pendewasaan politik di Indonesia karena cenderung membuat kaum remaja kehilangan kepercayaan atau confidence terhadap negaranya sendiri; memicu kemunculan skeptisisme, sehinngga bukan tidak mungkin menjadi alasan bagi masyarakat untuk memilih bersikap ‘masa bodoh’ terhadap dinamika politik.

Peran remaja dalam proses pendewasaan politik di Indonesia bukan hanya sekadar sebagai penonton semata. Meskipun sulit untuk dapat secara langsung terlibat dalam proses pembuatan dan perumusan kebijakan (policy making), kaum remaja memiliki peran yang sangat signifikan dalam memengaruhi serta mengawasi kebijakan yang dibuat dan diterapkan oleh pemerintah.

(Sumber Gambar: Free the Animal)

Melalui keberadaan media massa dalam jumlah besar serta perkembangan new media di sekitarnya, kaum remaja memiliki kesempatan untuk memiliki peran yang krusial dalam proses pendewasaan politik. Kaum remaja, saat ini, bisa dengan mudah menyampaikan pendapat maupun kritikannya terhadap kebijakan pemerintah melalui wadah new media, terutama jejaring sosial. Selain menjadi bentuk perwujudan kesadaran (awareness) terhadap isu yang berkembang, hal ini juga membuat kaum remaja secara aktif terlibat dalam proses pendidikan politik bagi masyarakat dengan melakukan penyebaran informasi.

Interaksi yang begitu tinggi di dalam masyarakat melalui sarana new media ini bahkan telah menjelma sebagai indikator tersendiri bagi para pelaku politik praktis, misalnya melalui penghitungan share of exposure (pembicaraan di dalam masyarakat) dan share of awareness (kesadaran masyarakat) untuk memahami perkembangan suatu isu di dalam masyarakat

Sayangnya, tidak keseluruhan proses ini menimbulkan efek yang positif. Ragam new media yang bisa diakses oleh siapapun tanpa terkecuali membuat peluang berkembangnya persepsi yang keliru dalam meahami situasi menjadi semakin besar. Berbeda dengan ketika informasi muncul hanya dari sumber-sumber tertentu yang kredibel, saat ini informasi tidak bisa lagi dimonopoli oleh pihak-pihak tertentu. Setiap orang bisa jadi memiliki pemahaman berbeda terhadap satu isu yang sama akibat ketersediaan informasi yang tak terbatas.

Kondisi seperti ini tentunya tidak sehat bagi proses pendewasaan politik di Indonesia. Pun budaya latah yang kental di dalam masyarakat hanya membuat masalah ini semakin pelik dan kompleks, terutama dengan kondisi kaum remaja pada umumnya yang belum memiliki pendirian politik sehingga dapat dengan mudah terpengaruh oleh informasi yang berkembang di dalam masyarakat.

Kaum remaja, sebagai generasi yang kelak akan menjadi pemimpin bangsa, sudah semestinya diberikan keleluasaan untuk membicarakan serta mengkritisi setiap fenomena politik yang terjadi. Meskipun begitu, bukan berarti kaum remaja dapat seenaknya menyebarkan informasi yang tendensius di dalam masyarakat. Kaum remaja haruslah menjadi aktor yang bertanggungjawab dalam keterlibatannya sebagai bagian dari masyarakat, karena politik tidaklah seharusnya menjadi topik pembicaraan bagi orang dewasa saja; terlebih di era new media yang memungkinkan penyebaran informasi seluas-luasnya.

Kesimpulan

Perkembangan new media ikut memengaruhi arus informasi. Dipicu oleh globalisasi dan perkembangan teknologi informasi yang begitu pesat, keberadaan new media membuat masyarakat bisa mengakses informasi dengan mudah dan cepat, meskipun tetap dituntut untuk bersikap kritis dalam menerimanya karena tidak semua informasi berhasil merepresentasikan situasi dan kondisi yang sebenarnya.

Lebih dari itu, keberadaan new media terbukti membuat banyak isu, yang sebenarnya tidak perlu menjadi topik pembicaraan, mencuat ke permukaan akibat latah yang sudah membudaya sehingga masyarakat mudah diprovokasi. Saat ini saja, misalnya, banyak masyarakat, terutama kaum remaja, memilih jejaring sosial sebagai sumber informasi utamanya meskipun sepenuhnya sadar akan ketiadaan jaminan akurasi dari informasi yang diperoleh. Meskipun begitu, budaya latah tetap memiliki peranan penting dalam proses pembentukan persepsi dan opini terhadap isu serta peristiwa yang berkembang di dalam masyarakat Indonesia.

(Sumber Gambar: David E. Benjamin)

Laiknya dosis atau takaran dalam mengonsumsi obat, kaum remaja mestilah kritis dalam menerima informasi yang berkembang, terutama di era new media di mana akses terhadap informasi tidak lagi mengenal batas. Penerimaan informasi yang di luar batas hanya akan berakibat pada terjadinya ‘overdosis’ informasi; menimbulkan kebingungan dalam mengambil sikap dan keputusan politik. Oleh karena itulah, perlu ditekankan bahwa tanpa idealisme serta kematangan dalam memahami fenomena yang terjadi, kaum remaja dapat dengan mudah disulap menjadi boneka politik yang sarat kepentingan bagi pihak-pihak yang kepentingannya selalu sarat akan muatan-muatan politis.■

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Referensi

Badan Pusat Statistik (2010) Penduduk Indonesia menurut Provinsi 1971, 1980, 1990, 1995, 2000, dan 2010. Badan Pusat Statistik [Diakses 26 Maret 2013].

—— (2011) Persentase Penduduk Berumur 10 Tahun ke Atas menurut Provinsi, Jenis Kelamin, dan Status Perkawinan 2009—2011. Badan Pusat Statistik [Diakses 26 Maret 2013].

Irianto, Agus Maladi (2011) Media dan Realitas. Universitas Diponegoro [Diakses 26 Maret 2013].

Tempo (2013) Hidup di Jagat Maya. Tempo, 11—17 Maret 2013, h. 12.