Divided by Hashtags, Unrepresented Citizenship: Findings from 2019 Indonesia Electoral Discourse in Twitter
The 2019 Presidential Election has its own uniqueness compared to the previous presidential ones because the dynamics began with the emergence of #2019GantiPresiden, which means that the year of 2019 is the time to elect a new president. This hashtag appeared even before the stages of the 2019 presidential election officially began. Afterwards, various hashtags appeared alternately as markers of issues that developed during the presidential election. This article uses Twitter analysis during the period of September 2018 to April 2019 to reveal how citizens engagement in online talks is polarized by politics of hashtags. This study finds that hashtags are operated to cooptate online talk in social media into dichotomistic debate focusing in both presidential candidates’ personal figure. This finding indicates: First, the weak position of citizens in deliberating public issues; second, the ineffectiveness of social media, especially Twitter as an online forum for articulating public issues; and third, online influencers, who create and propagate themes for hashtags, become new political actors who play a strategic role in deliberating public issues, but the lack of literacy of public issues leads to fragmentation rather than providing democratic political education. Therefore, learning from the 2019 presidential election, institutionalizing democracy needs to be supported by adequate information and communication literacy in order to articulate public issues into the political agenda of the candidates. Strengthening the role of social media needs to be combined with contemporary citizenship political strategies that can extend access for civil society and online influencers to play an active role in articulating public issues more argumentatively.
Keywords: hashtags, citizenship, politics of representation, public issues.