Post to Exist


Post to Exist

Part One of Jakarta's Youth In Real Life.

by Whiteboard Journal


As much as you want to deny it, social media allows the tendency to show-off whether it’s intentionally or unintentionally. From a social elite’s timeline to simply doing it for the sake of it, updating your post with the location tag of where you are currently at is one of the playful traits of an active social media life.

At first, sharing your whereabouts for necessary tagging seems reasonable to paint a picture of where was a certain what that was literally happening. However, with its growing tendency and as the foundation of online self-representation over reality, location tagging in social media posts seemingly builds as a necessity to depict one’s existence to have an up-to-date lifestyle, such as going to the best coffee shops in town and following the crowd at the art market.

When IKEA Indonesia first opened its superstore doors to Indonesian customers last year, the urban middle-class citizens nearby who are no strangers to the Swedish company were anticipating themselves to be within this excitement. While being abroad during this occurrence, I noticed the build-up hype from friends and relatives posting updates from images to location check-in at the furniture store. In which, one interesting phenomenon that I stumbled upon was the IKEA storage aisle ‘mandatory’ photo.

When browsing through the IKEA Alam Sutera location tag in Instagram, there’s a consistency of images of individuals posing in a similar scene, and you may look away once the images are thoroughly loaded but it is hard to resist scrolling and searching like a game of Where’s Waldo. In general, the photo consists of individual(s) posing in a runway aisle of the IKEA storage, which any IKEA customer will find in any IKEA store across the globe. The vast yet familiar looking storage with its neat, well-organised and cardboard colour palette is now one of the most popular places for urban youth to visit in the Greater Jakarta surrounding.

While learning about what is now known as the ‘mainstream hallway’, I am perplexed to why a large ‘gudang’ of sorted cardboard boxes stacks and wrapped unassembled furniture showcase one of the trendiest traits in the social media environment. Perhaps aesthetically, it is visually appealing in its simple perspective play and high-rise ceiling. Still, what is so special about a photo of yourself posing in a ‘gudang’?

Naturally, there’s the IKEA brand factor. With every superstore, the distinctive thick yellow logo across its blue exterior is too familiar not to be recognised. Now that your presence is within this iconic superstore, how would you like to let your social media network know in a visually, good-with-a-filter adjustment?

This is where the social-media-savvy Jakarta youth play in creativity: finding a new way of sharing from the mainstream, thus creating a new mainstream experience. To post an image showing one is visiting IKEA, the reasoning of posing in an idealised showroom of an IKEA catalogue-based living room does not bring one’s existence in the IKEA store itself – it’ll just seem as if you’re posing in a stranger’s living room.

On the other hand, the storage may simply define itself as a ‘gudang’, but it is IKEA’s very own gudang, a recognisable image of IKEA that is not displayed essentially in the catalogue or advertisement to lure customers to shop for their furniture.

The habit of necessity in showcasing peers your updates in social media networks lingers with the trait of showing-off, and tends to intertwine with the need of finding approval – in this case, having to approve that you are in the youth trend. By being there and having a picture as proof in a ‘gudang’ that is established to be the ‘mainstream hallway’ on your own social media timeline not only proves your presence in IKEA but your up-to-date lifestyle to be an on-trend youth, which approves your social media existence as, what you’d be locally known, ‘anak kekinian’.

Seeking approval through your online persona is common through anticipation of being constantly in the centre of attention – one of the perks of being in the presence of social media. An up-to-date timeline determines the individual’s existence, the individual’s social (in real) life, thus it composes your self-representation online. This manner is common throughout any social-media savvy youth across the globe, where Peg Streep’s assertion in her article of ‘4 Things Teens Want and Need from Social Media’ states, “The culture of social media values being seen over being known.” It is through a trend like the IKEA mainstream hallway that puts one in the youth trend map, because with location tagged photo update as proof, you are already seen to be social without having to demonstrate the process, or without establishing yourself as an individual.

In Elahe Izadi’s ‘Why People Quit Their ‘Beautiful’ Social Media Lives’ article, she refers to Sherry Turkle’s known observations in this field of study, where she quotes Turkle saying, “You become very good at doing something that, in one way, its whole existence is predicated on that it represents you, but actually, if you do it well, it starts to represent you less and less.” While scrolling through the IKEA Alam Sutera location tag in Instagram, there seems to be a paradox that gradually surfaces. The distinctiveness of the IKEA ‘mainstream hallway’ image had initially no essential meaning that the trend itself cycles back to updating with no purpose, but only to showcase one’s existence in being a social individual among local youth. With more, and more of the similar photos composing the grid, the individual, as well as IKEA, represented in the photos erode in personality, eliminating the whole process of its primary experience.

For all sorts of social media updates, the reasons underlying each individual are always varied. While one posts as a diary entry, others to keep-up with the trend, or to build an appealing timeline. However, with posting an update in IKEA, the borderline seems to be between actually buying furniture or for the hallway image, and somewhere in there is for the delicious Swedish meatballs, köttbullar – where you can only find IKEA delectable goods.

The IKEA Alam Sutera ‘mainstream hallway’ phenomenon is one of the many examples that play part in today’s Jakarta’s youth trendy lifestyle that is leaning towards, ‘if it doesn’t exist in your social media timeline, it didn’t happen in reality.’ Our tendency to post on social media seems to have more reasons than to actually doing it in offline reality. Ironically, it is not suppose to be like so. What happens and in existence offline is what supposedly shapes your online reality. The latter shouldn’t overpower, but supplement. The latter shouldn’t be more important, but supportive.

Now, allow me to ask, will you simply take a trip all the way to Alam Sutera only to pose in a ‘gudang’?

“Post to Exist” ditulis oleh;

Yanti Sastrawan
Balinese-ish, Nutella enthusiast. Aside from wandering through parks and paths, she finds passion in picture books, illustration, as well as storytelling, and highly supports dance recesses.whiteboardjournal, logo