The 'Unusual' Youth

Imagine you’re sitting in your home on a lazy Saturday morning, watching spongebobs squarepants with a cup of tea or coffee on your hand, just minding your own business to spend the day, when suddenly your phone beeps. You pick it up only to see a text or message from old-friends or unknown number bearing a cryptic message: ‘Sorry, test contact!’ or ‘Hy, gi apz?’. Err!

Congratulations, you’ve just had a close encounter with an alay that ruin your day in the morning haha!

Like last Sunday, when I was go to swimming, then when I received message from my old friend which just said, ‘Hae, pha kaBar?’ wait, no matter how handsome he is, no matter how beautiful our story was ..but it’s really makes me want to laugh, so loud!

You might have heard the word alay used in a disparaging manner before – as in ‘Dasar alay!’ – or more commonly to refer to the hordes of teenagers with tacky clothing who like to flock en masse to public toilets and use the large mirrors therein for impromptu self-portrait sessions while striking supposedly cool poses (The latter are often referred to as ‘putu-putu narziz’ sessions) lol. Well, for the last, I’m just doing that when I was in high school. Silly, huh? What a shame.
The fact is, there is no real, fixed definition of the word alay. Wikipedia (yes, the phenomenon is notable enough to warrant a complete, non-stub article on Wikipedia’s main site) simply describes it as ‘a pop culture phenomenon in Indonesia,’ spanning a ‘wide array of styles in music, dress an messaging.’ The more widely accepted definition, however, is that alay is a portmanteau word meaning ‘anak layangan’. This is because most of these commonly referred to a alay are – or act like- people from the 'kampung' who are going through culture shock after coming to a big city.

But I was thinking, what exactly makes somebody alay instead of simply having a horrible sense of style? Music, for one. Contemporary pop and rock musician in Indonesian are favoured by the alay crowd, hmm you-know-what-I-mean band. Then, fashion is also another main identifier, although this usually means something tacky, with clashing colours and mistached outfits. Think bright green trousers, a chequered shirt, bright red shoes an blue-rimmed sunglasses. I think they’re supposed to be a rainbow cake.

Let’s completing the whole look would be a shiny new mobilephone (such as android, blackberry, or apple device, is a have must items) loaded with MP3 files featuring the aforementioned bands a pair of earphones. These rarely leave the hands of their owners, as constant texting, chatting or posting stuff on Facebook is a major part of the alay hang-out ritual. And his brings us to two major and closely intertwined aspects of the alay phenomenon: sosial networking and the alay lingo.

Can you tell me what substituting numbers for letters (eg. ‘4’ for ‘a’ or ‘2’ for ‘two’) meaning for? Then ignoring capitalization rules is not exactly a new or novel phenomenon and can actually be pretty handy when you need to quickly fire off a text message or when dealing with Twitter’s 140 characters limit. There are no hard rules but he main point is to try and make a word or sentence appear cooler or more eye-catching by mixing lowercase an uppercase letters, as well as numbers an special characters, or to make them sound cuter by replacing ‘home’ with ‘humzz’ for example.

Actually, this habits begin since we start using Friendster. Am I right? *winks* Friendster, the social network which allowed users to put their profile with glittery images. However, facebook has none of these features, forcing alay users to increasingly rely on their a-really-cutes-images to express themselves they indeed do.

Admittedly you can sometimes stumble upon some pretty creative stuff, especially when encountering people who have worked out how to use Unicode characters. It’s a chessy as it gets, but: 

Can at least add a 'bit' of artistic flair to what would otherwise would be boring walls or text. I also use this unique code, but just for funny emoticons to describe what I'm thinking. Enough.

I hope that his trend would quickly fade away. This sentiment is echoed by language experts who decry the fact that the alay argot further degrades the already-deplorable language skills of Indonesia’s youth. Still, there are those who feel that alay is just like any other adolescent trend: mostly harmless.

Can you imagine if one day a newspaper or magazine in Indonesia use this text to inform their news? 

or, this one?

God, no!


Picture and Story References by:
Jakarta Pos Newspaper
Kompasiana edukasi  


  1. I think there's no unusual youth. I rather called them with "unextraordinary youth" #LOL :))

    I just can stop laughing after i saw the head line news with unusual word. :))

    Sori bad English, i just a newbie ^^v

    1. 'un-extra-ordinary youth' also can we use to called this 'unusual youth', I think :P

    2. Yup maybe, but for me it still different each other :))

      (duh ribet juga pake bahasa Inggris ini ya) hahaha

    3. hahaha, makanya indonesia selalu lebih baik *apeu*

  2. aaah, Friendster. It's been a long time since I heard that word. Anyway, age of youth will always be unusual, that is if we compared it with our experience as an adult.

    1. Young people don't always do what they're told, but if they can pull it off and do something wonderful. I just remember, when we're young, we cannot be both young and wise. hihihi

  3. hahaha.. what a bite world! nice..

    I thought, there is a time we all ever be a the 'unusual' youth. :)

  4. unusual youth a.k.a alay, alay is part of life.
    cape ngetik pake bhs orang terus btw nice english
    gw yakin kita semua pernah ngalamin masa2 ini tanpa gw sadari gw pernah pake polem (poni lempar) waktu kuliah udah gitu di warnain pula, aga gimana gitu klo bgeliat foto2 jaman kuliah....

    find me at

  5. hwakakak do you think you want to eat that rainbow cake ? I think I will keloloden sooner as I taste it


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