Indonesians are huge users of online services – at least, those who can afford a smartphone and access to mobile data. And it is mobile data – I don’t ever see much advertised in terms of home broadband-type services, but oh, my god… mobile internet is huge. HUGE.

Budhe is an old woman, she sticks to her knitting, and her knitting is Facebook, despite friends and family urging her to take up other popular apps like Line, Path and What’sApp. Not to mention Twitter. Indonesia as a whole seems to love Twitter. LOVE IT.

Indonesians were early adopters of Twitter and are among the most prolific Twitter users. In 2010, the comScore report ranked Indonesia as the country with the highest Twitter penetration, with 20.8% of the Internet-using population visiting Twitter in the month of June. In early 2012 a market research firm put the Indonesian Twitter-using population at 29.4 million, the fifth largest in the world in raw numbers. By 2013 CNN dubbed Indonesia the “Twitter nation” (Lim, 2013). By 2014, Indonesia was ranked as the fifth most tweeting country, Twitter reports approximately 29 million Indonesian users, and Jakarta was responsible for 2.4% of the 10.6 billion Twitter posts made between January and March of 2014.

The 29.4 million Twitter users in 2012 represented only 11.9% of Indonesia’s total 2012 population of 247 million. Still, this is impressive considering the World Bank estimated the Internet-using population of Indonesia at 15.4% that year, meaning that 77.3% of Indonesian Internet users were using Twitter. In the same market analysis, out of the public tweets geolocalized at the city level, Jakarta was the most active city in the world, accounting for 2% of the total volume, and with Bandung coming in sixth. Another study (Poblete, Garcia, Mendoza & Jaimes, 2011) found that Indonesia has the highest tweets/user ratio at 1,813.53, ahead of Japan (1,617.35) and Brazil (1,370.27).

(from Twitter Usage in Indonesia)

There are a few more interesting statistics on internet usage over at Tech In Asia.

So what I’m getting to here is a phenomenon which spread through the internet at the end of 2016. #Omteloletom.

Om means ‘uncle’. Telolet is the sound a fancy bus or truck horn makes. “Om, telolet, om” is essentially the Indonesian  version of pumping your fist when you pass a B-double truck, hoping that the driver will sound the horn.

And because the internet is a place where often very little makes sense, Indonesian Twitter users began to tweet the hashtag #omteloletom. So much so that it began trending. They started sending it to the accounts of celebrities and eventually celebrities responded. DJs and music producers then started creating tracks and remixes around the sound of the bus horns.

Like I said, the internet makes little sense.

As with most fads, #omteloletom bubbled up and then popped and went away. But it made for a merry Christmas for me, and I guess there’s nothing to stop any of us from yelling out “Om, telolet, om” next time we’re on a Indonesian roadside…

Here’s a video (2:43 long) of kids yelling out at passing buses.

This is my favourite remix. – mostly because 40 seconds is usually my limit for listening to EDM remixes.

The Sydney Morning Herald breaks it down for us in English. 

The BBC explains it all in bahasa Indonesia.


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