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.