Maaf saya gaptek!

An acronym, ‘gagap teknologi’ means technologically inept. While there are record numbers of Indonesians on social media, in particular Facebook, shockingly few people here actually have a command of basic computer skills or programs. Essentially, the only reason most young people here have an email address these days is because they have to have one to access Facebook!

Complete gaptek Indonesians are mostly over 50, but even for those born in the 1970s, there are not many people I know who can use word processing programs, spread sheets, have and maintain their own websites or blogs, or know how to use basic photo, audio or video editing software. I also know of people in this age range who don’t know how to create a Facebook account or use Whatsapp, and are consequently still only text messaging. It shocked me a few years back when my suggestion to a local official of connecting people in our hamlet via a communication app or page on Facebook was shunned because he “didn’t understand stuff like that”… and these are folks who are trusted by society with being in charge of “stuff”.

Most government officials who have any power are over 40, and in fact mostly in their 50s. Considering that most of these people have few computer skills and don’t even understand how to use social media platforms or apps properly, we have a problem. My sister-in-law works in a government department and she said from Day One she was being asked to type emails for her seniors because they both didn’t know how to use MS Word or even how to type using all fingers! A consequence of this of course is that the people in power and who make decisions in this country are probably a lot less efficient that they should be.

Being behind in technology threatens jobs – this is one of the reasons that Uber and Grab were so hated by taxi and freelance drivers in Bali – apart from the ease of ordering via an app, simply being a driver who can follow Google Maps means you’re ahead of your game.

There are also relatively few websites in Indonesian which is an added obstacle to non-foreign language speakers who are technologically challenged. Indonesia’s public education system is notoriously primitive and there are no free government-funded computer courses for the public. Schools are trying to combat this with compulsory computer classes at elementary level that introduce computers from very basics: defining what a CPU or a mouse is for example. This will help in the long run, but in the meantime we are left with a frustrated, uneducated and gaptek society that has a lot of catching up to do.


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