Bali Is Blocking Access To Social Media For 24 Hours To Mark 'Day Of Silence'

Phone companies in Bali have unanimously agreed to block access to social media sites as part of an effort to commemorate the country's "Day of Silence" with the utmost respect. The 24-hour internet shutdown during Nyepi – a celebration marking new year on the predominantly Hindu island – aims to help screen-obsessed natives 'calm their minds' and "rest".

(Photo: Alex Holyoake via Unsplash)

The annual event is so sacred amongst the Balinese community, that even so much as reaching for your smartphone to send a tweet or upload a selfie could cause offense.

But this year, these unconscious millennial practices will be almost impossible to enact – as telecoms firms on the island have all agreed to the shutdown, which starts at 6am on March 17. 

As Indonesia's Ministry of Communications Nyoman Sujaya explains, this means that smartphones will not be able to connect to the internet, shutting off access to sites such as Facebook, Instagram and even instant messaging apps like WhatsApp.

"Let's rest a day, free from the internet to feel the calm of the mind," Gusti Ngurah Sudiana, Head of the Indonesian Hinduism Society said. "Many Hindu people are addicted to gadgets," he told the Press Association," I hope during Nyepi they can be introspective."

On Nyepi (a day meant for reflection and fasting) Balinese people tend to stay at home and stop using electricity. Airports and shops close and guests at resorts are asked to keep the noise to a minimum.

Beaches and streets on the usually bustling island are often deserted during the event - except for patrols to make sure silence is being observed. Television and radio broadcasts will also be silenced as usual.

Religious and civilian leaders in Bali, including police and military chiefs, made the request to central government earlier this month.

It will be the first time the internet is shut down for Nyepi. Similar requests have been made in the past although until now the measures were not approved for implementation.

Mr Sujaya insists shushing social media will become the norm for the Day of Silence in the future. 

By Matthew Kirby, publish on 14/03/2018