Sweden: what the fuck happened


It’s a strange headline I know. But it’s there simply  because that “Sweden What the fuck happened”  is the entry page for many of my visitors to this blog although it only contains the now almost legendary image of Stellan Skarsgård as a viking and some nightclub kids with 80s hairstyle, androgyne faces and lots of bronzer in their faces.

But it seems to me that Sweden has a bigger issue than the strange appearance of some of the males or the need to add a bronzer to acquire a tan.

To me, and this is of course my subjective, personal opinion as an emigrant, Sweden has become a country in large part obsessed with buying stuff and obeying rules. And by rules I don’t only mean laws, but all kinds of rules – most noticeably social ones. This has resulted in people being afraid to speak their minds and instead talk about nothing but practical stuff like which phone subscription you should have or which LED TV has the best value for money.

Feelings and thoughts around things that really matters, are left unspoken and unattended. They’re better dealt with alone it seems like.

This reservedness creates a society on standby and as a Swede it’s hurting me to see and experience it. You can blame it on the weather maybe, it can’t be easy to experience grey skies and darkness for 70% of the year, but then you look over to Canada or even Norway with a similar climate and where people seem less prone to have a stick up their butt and more often a smile on their face.

Sweden and Swedes: Cheer up and Chin up! (Fanastic song by Ryan Adams).


A writing vacation

On Tuesday Lenah, Aiden and I are packing our bags and setting off to Sweden. Will be nice with a change of environment and some time off work. Besides the long-awaited family time I hope I can also get a good chunk of the finishing touches on Hollywood PA done during this trip.

This blog will as usual be updated completely randomly depending on the level of inspiration.

If I don’t see or hear from you, enjoy the Summer!

Jonas vs Animals

Yes, that’s what it’s been like for the past couple of days. And it all started with the cockroach incident.

Let me explain.

When we went on our holiday to Sweden we left the third-floor bathroom window open (this may sound like we’re living in a mansion, but no, it’s a townhouse) for the house to get some air because there’s nothing worse than coming home to stuffy house (well, there are plenty of things, so let’s settle for it’s not nice).

The evening we came home we found a cockroach in that same bathroom, but when he saw us he ran under the tumble dryer and hid there. I took out the anti-bug spray, gave him a healthy or not so healthy dose of it, and thought I had killed the “sumbitch”. It was late and I was too tired to maneuver tumble dryers so I decided to leave the removal of Mr. Housepest to the next day.

This was not a wise decision as you shall soon find out.

The next morning I had a shower and as I reached out for my nice dark blue towel and wiped myself with it, out came the big-sized cockroach and after some brief physical contact (disgusting legs on my chest and stomach) he landed on the floor.

As the hardcore macho man I am, I think I jumped like three feet, screamed like a little girl and shouted for Lenah to come and save me from the ghastly creature. Then we sprayed it to death there on the bathroom floor, took it out on the roof and threw it on the neighbors car (by accident).

The horrible episode was over.  But of course the memory of the encounter lingers…

Jonas vs Animals 2 – The Sequel is now showing on Arcade street. It’s about how a rooster keeps a whole street awake by crowing every god damn night and early morning. I think the rooster will die in the end though.

Dealing with Swedes

This picture has little to do with the actual content of this post. But it sure looks good. (Man, I’m getting hungry)

I’m probably offending a whole country when I say that Swedes are obsessed with shopping and TV, but that’s pretty much how I see it when I’m back in the “motherland”. There’s stores for everything everywhere and the TV programming is actually outrageously impressive. Here you won’t find only the usual soap-ish rubbish but also a lot of interesting documentaries and televised discussions.

The problem I have with Sweden is that it’s such an effective country when it comes to automation, meaning that you rarely need to deal with real people anymore. You can do pretty much anything by SMS. Get loans, pay busses, open public toilets, and more. When you call the doctor you get a hotline, when you go to the store you can choose to sort out the groceries, bags, and payment yourselves without interacting with a single human being. I can probably think of many more examples like this, but the point should be pretty clear, we’re getting so independent there’s a risk of becoming anti-social.

Human interaction should be one of the things that makes life beautiful, not a hassle or something we need to work around. Maybe you can always blame the Swedish social awkwardness (let’s use the word “reserved” instead) on the weather, but I think that’s oversimplifying. There’s got to be bad-weather-countries out there who interact more with each other? Or would they all be the same if they were as forwards in society building and technology, as Sweden is?

I can’t stay on my Swedish rant without mentioning Jantelagen, the silent and unofficial law saying that if someone does something well or wants something more than the norm, he or she should be very, very modest about it. Jantelagen is very much based on jealousy and the notion that nobody is better than anybody and that we rather have people who are equally bad instead of role models inspiring others to get better. This is very evident in school were intelligent students are often asked to wait for the slower ones instead of being pushed to use their smarts in a better way and grow (which is the whole point of school, isn’t it?).

Jantelagen is of course present not only in school, but also later in life where people who are less successful often complain about the cockiness and sometimes “luck” of more fortunate. It doesn’t matter if you’re a sports star, a business person or reach success in some other way, the only really acceptable way to “win” or be better than others is in lotteries where everybody has the exact same starting outcome. Jantelagen is strongly linked in the roots of the heavy socialism that has always underlined and in my opinion often hurt Swedish society.

But I don’t want to complain away, because it’s boring to read people who rant (or is it?). So I want to conclude this small Swedish observation with saying that Sweden is an absolutely beautiful country, with a rich language, a nice culture and in general friendly people. It wouldn’t hurt though if Swedes took more pride in that, opened their mouths a bit more, went out for a glass of wine with friends on a weekday instead of watching the latest episode of Idol, and spent their money on dinners and travel instead of TVs and sofas.