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As the country with the fifth largest population in the world, Indonesia is a massive potential market for mobile technology adoption and development.
Mobile phones are not only a symbol of Indonesian modernity (Barendregt 5), but like other communication technology can become a platform through which to explore socio-political issues (Winner 28).
In this article we explore the role mobile phone technology in contemporary forms of social, intimate, and sexual relationships in Indonesia.
We argue that new forms of expression and relations are facilitated by the particular features of mobile technology.
We discuss two cases from contemporary Indonesia: a mobile dating service (BEDD) and mobile phone pornography.
For each case study, we first discuss the socio-political background in Indonesia, then describe the technological affordances of the mobile phone which facilitate dating and pornography, and finally give examples of how the mobile phone is effecting change in dating and pornographic practices.
This study is placed at a time when social relations, intimacy, and sexuality in Indonesia have become central public issues.
Since the end of the New Order whilst many people have embraced the new freedoms of and democratization, there is also a high degree of social anxiety, tension and uncertainty (Juliastuti 139-40).These social changes and desires have played out in the formations of new and exciting modes of creativity, solidarity, and sociality (Heryanto and Hadiz 262) and equally violence, terror and criminality (Heryanto and Hadiz 256).The diverse and plural nature of Indonesian society is alive with a myriad of people and activities, and it is into this diverse social body that the mobile phone has become a central and prominent feature of interaction.The focus of our study is dating and pornography as mediated by the mobile phone; however, we do not suggest that these are new experiences in Indonesia.Rather over the last decade social, intimate, and sexual relationships have all been undergoing change and their motivations can be traced to a variety of sources including the factors of globalization, democratization and modernization.Throughout Asia “new media have become a crucial site for constituting new Asian sexual identities and communities” (Berry, Martin, and Yue 13) as people are connecting through new communication technologies.