2007-11-08

Roger Boyes knows Finland

The Times' Roger Boyes describes the hellish existence us Finns face in "Similarities to other massacres - but this was a very Finnish affair":

Finland is a land of wide open spaces, between 16-17 people per square kilometre. Lakes often separate neighbouring farmsteads. At this time of year it is sunk in almost permanent half-light and Finnish families count the days to their winter holidays when they can flee to the bright sunlight of south-east Asian resorts.

This is a very insightful point. I'm sure the fact that Pekka-Eric Auvinen grew up on a farmstead separated by lakes from the rest of civilization has a lot to do with his shooting spree. Not being familiar with the Jokela area, though, I can't help but to wonder how they managed to fit the farmstead, not to mention the lakes, in a built-up area with a population of about 5'000 people.
Clinical depression is high, the suicide rate too. But above all the Nordic winter isolates the young in the small towns: they arrive at school in the dark and leave it in the dark, travelling long distances to their homes. Friendship in the traditional sense is often a summer luxury.

Ah yes, the unwaveringly high suicide rate. The dark winters are to blame, no doubt, what with the way the lack of sunlight prevents young people from leaving their houses. If people didn't insist on living on farmsteads located on remote islands, maybe their houses would be lined by lit streets which they could traverse even after sundown.
And so friendship becomes virtual. The social networking sites are switched on the moment the Finnish teenager returns home. YouTube substitutes for television, which is regarded as dreary and middle-aged.

If only Finnish teenagers would watch more television so they could experience real friendship.
About 75 per cent of all Finns use the internet. And Finland, the cradle of Nokia, has some of the cheapest mobile phone rates in Europe. Kids as young as 6 take mobiles to school; a child's first text message is a matter of parental pride.

Quite often it's framed on the wall. This illustrates how the parents are to blame: if moms and dads didn't encourage children's mobile phone use, maybe the kids would have more time for social interaction.
None of this is unusual for modern Europe, but in Finland the high-tech world has become a normal, rather than an exceptional, substitute for the world of human contact. A youth isolated at school sinks even deeper into isolation when he has left the school gates: a recipe for trouble. Even more so in a country where guns are so readily available; Finland has the third-largest per capita ownership of handguns in the world.

This is the closest this remarkably condescending hack comes to making a sound point. I'd like to see his source for that statistic, though, as there's a possibility he's mixing handgun ownership with gun ownership in general. I know Finland ranked third in the latter category in a recent survey.

Update: Responding to the same article, Aapo keeps it short and sweet.

3 comments:

egan said...

Would it be wrong to laugh at his name, or to change the topic of my post on this (I think everyone's done one) to 'does he Roger Boyes?'

Jan Sand said...

As a former New Yorker I have found Finland a place for much more consideration for the individual than New York. I do think this horrible incident should be examined carefully for implications but I do not think it is symptomatic of Finnish society, whatever the local reactions to the climate. The social emotional environment in the USA is decidedly different and I do not think Finland relates to any noticeable degree to that standard wherein social violence is a daily occurrence.

From the dark and devastated farmstead said...

Thanks, loved your article:D