2016 has been a tumultuous year in global politics, and Indonesia is no exception.
Meanwhile, hardline Muslim groups have now taken to ruining Christmas for Indonesia’s Christian community by declaring war on Santa hats. Then, Indonesian cops killed three would-be terrorists who had charmingly planned to launch an attack on Christmas.
Nevertheless, many Indonesians are rallying in support of diversity, pluralism and tolerance. For example, the youth wing of the world’s largest Islamic organisation, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), are gearing up to protect churches over the festive period.
But there’s another way in which Indonesians are coming together: confusing the heck out of the rest of the world through a ridiculous meme.
Rather than dwelling on rising tension and possible political crisis, young Indonesians are rounding out 2016 by spamming the social media accounts world leaders, sport megastars and famous DJs with the three profound words: “Om Telelot Om”.
World: Having a terribly awful 2016.
— Royal Archduke Kemal (@RAKemal) December 21, 2016
This refers to what kids might say to a bus driver, meaning something like “sir, beep the horn, sir”.
The meme has been around for months, but in recent days has gone global much to the bemusement of non-Indonesians worldwide.
It started with Indonesian netizens spamming famous DJs after the Djakarta Warehouse Project, Asia’s largest two-day dance music festival. A week later, the meme has reached the epitome of popular music recognition by being featured on Billboard.com.
By Wednesday the #telolet hashtag was trending in Indonesia, before reaching viral status worldwide.
Not even the poor outgoing president, Barack Obama, was safe. They spammed an old post from Halloween with “OM TELOLET OM”.
Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo has got in on the action, brandishing trophies and saying hi to Indonesia. NBA all-star LeBron James wasn’t immune either, an Instagram post about his charity also being hijacked by Indonesian jokesters.
OM TELOLET OM.
INDONESIA recap video is finally here! pic.twitter.com/UZlHNG8CQz
— Zedd (@Zedd) December 21, 2016
Fresh from a devastating crash in Papua that killed 13 personnel, even the Indonesian military has cheered itself up by getting in on the joke.
— Natalie Sambhi (@SecurityScholar) December 21, 2016
— TNI Angkatan Udara (@_TNIAU) December 21, 2016
Governor Ahok, despite his troubles, has good-naturedly joined in on the global phenomenon. Here he is smiling and holding up a sheet of paper bearing the bizarre phrase.
— Zeno ID (@id_zayn) December 21, 2016
Dutch DJ Ummet Ozcan has produced a supreme OM TELOLET OM video for the world’s viewing pleasure. Enjoy.