Low political literacy, hoax prolificacy

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Syarifudin Yunus Indonesian literacy activist

IO – Political literacy has become an even more critical issue in our beloved country. It is an effort to build rational, knowledge- and competence-based political awareness. It is the conscious effort to understand current political realities. Politics is not just about power, but also about a person’s political rights and obligations – including the right to obtain a political education. 

Nowadays, hate speech, hoaxes and racial and religious discrimination proliferate our daily reality. This is most frequently expressed in social media. All the political dissent and furor so far is caused by the people’s lack of political literacy. Political literacy is not the same as political knowledge: “political knowledge” is different from “political literacy”: political buzzers have a lot of knowledge, but they do not use it for the good of the people. They use it to gain profit and short-term advantage, without caring for the possible future consequences of their actions. Therefore, the common people’s political literacy must be reinforced. 

Political literacy is essentially a mixture of knowledge, competence, and attitudes about political realities. It is an understanding of what “politics” means, an ability to perform political actions. Political literacy requires political education that would serve as a mirror reflecting a person’s interactions, experience and personality in politics. Political literacy is important as evidence of a practical understanding of political issues and realities in our country. Low political literacy signifies an inability to understand political dynamics, causing the people to become apathetic towards democracy and politics. 

The importance and role of political literacy must be socialized among the people, especially by the mass media. This is so that political narratives remain “cool”, based on logic instead of emotions. No matter how varied political dynamics are, everyone must be able to maintain political harmony. Political literacy avoids insults, provocations, accusations of one another among citizens, because the politically literate citizen is aware that such behavior is contrary to the values of democracy that should underlie our politics. 

Political literacy is far from restricting people’s political liberty. On the contrary, it teaches us to criticize others’ political opinions and show our political support in an ethical and civilized manner, to express our opinion logically. To have the people be responsible for and in their political participation, as all political actions have their consequences. Political literacy is supposed to encourage healthy and positive democracy in Indonesia by making us think twice instead of talking off the top of one’s head or otherwise simply spreading out baseless political sentiments. It is our responsibility to educate the people about proper politics, to allow everyone to accept and rely on political realities, no matter what they may be. 

The Electronic Information and Transaction Law No. 11 of 2018 is a legal attempt to instill political literacy. It is hoped to be a means for improving our collective political IQ as a nation, to guide us in our work and political actions, so that we are all held accountable. It is meant for us to be fairly restricted in our political efforts, in that we remain critical and participating, while remaining aware of political ethics and courtesy and adhering to them. It is meant to reduce the amount of political conflicts by forcing us to accept existing political realities. If we are all politically literate, we as a nation will be much more effective and productive, instead of being stuck in subjective issues. The most essential thing to do in Indonesian politics nowadays is to build up the people’s political literacy instead of political sensation. 

Hail to literacy.