10 fucking funny things about the Swedes: a social commentary.

By: Kai Teo

Sweden, the land of beautiful scenery, people and moose. The blondes, the meatballs and IKEA has led the world to believe that the country is the socialist utopia for equality, openness and good living.

But is it really?

Well, we can’t generalise and simply use sweeping statements to describe an entire population of 9 million. But like all stereotypes, the shit we’re about to list are based on some, rather common, observations. So don’t be a dick and go all self-righteous on us.

1. If a neighbour is in the corridor, a Swede will wait for him or her to disappear before leaving the apartment to avoid any conversation.

To the Swedes, talking to strangers can be as terrifying as being stuck in the elevator with Nicki Minaj. We’re not sure why, but unnecessary conversation, or even eye contact, is avoided at all costs in this country. Walk past a Swede on the sidewalk and you’ll see them bow their heads and quicken their pace. Don’t try to smile and say “Hej”, they get scared easily.

And this is also exhibited along a narrow footpath, where the shy Swede will walk behind you for about five minutes before finally mustering enough courage to say, “Excuse me” and overtake you.

2. The Swede never talks about feelings.

Socially approved topics in the country include weather, food, news, left-wing issues and general knowledge. Ask a Swede how their weekend was and adjectives like “Good”, “Fun”, “Cool” would be used again and again. They can describe an event in great detail, but they never talk about how they feel deep inside. Even if they’ve had the best weekend of their lives, they’d prefer to stick to “Good”.

It’s almost like they have this big jar sitting by the windowsill at home labeled ‘feelings’ in cursive writing, which they scream into, and then promptly seal, never to be opened to the outside world.

Once in the presence of another human being, they always maintain a stoic, socially acceptable facial expression that conveys 50% joy and 50% ok-ness. And this brings us to the next point.

3. Laughing loudly is wrong.

It must be the Jantelagen shit at work. Take a seat in a café at any afternoon and observe carefully. You’ll see that conversation is kept at a rather low volume, topics remain very politically correct, and laughing suppressed strictly to giggles.

No outbursts of insane laughter here. People will stare at you and think you’re mad. Or you might just disturb another table’s conversation.

4. Ask a Swede to describe him or herself and watch them stutter.

The socially accepted way of describing yourself is to provide facts. And only very impersonal facts. Stuff like the job you’re in, where you were born, how long you’ve lived in this city, and that’s about it. It almost feels like the Swedes are defined by their roles in the society. Socially assigned, rather than personally defined.

You’ll never hear any one of them introduce themselves by saying, “I love listening to music. The beats, the layers, the subtle nuances… They make me feel, alive.” No, never.

5. Whenever an awkward silence occurs in a conversation, the Swede starts making weird noises.

This one’s fucking funny to us. It kinda takes a trained ear to pick this up. But at a social gathering, whenever there’s no one talking for more than eight seconds, the Swede starts feeling compelled to make some noises to fill the silence.

It varies between a rising-pitched “Ar”, toned like a question mixed with an acknowledgement, or “Mmm” that sounds the same way. This would be repeated by several participants of the conversation, until someone else successfully starts the next sentence.

6. Every Swede has a planned calendar of events.

If you’re a manufacturer of a planner or scheduler, you’ll make big bucks in Sweden. Swedes plan evening beers a week in advance and never stay out late if they’ve got work the next day. And they write this shit down, either in a little book, or in their phones.

We can understand if you’re a busy businessman packed with back-to-back meetings everyday.

But Swedes are very uncomfortable with uncertainty. It makes them feel more secure when they can almost predict the future with their scheduler. Spontaneous events reflect a lack of control over your emotions, your time, and your life.

7. Swedes have the worst response to praise.

Tell a Swede that he or she looks amazing. And watch them put themselves down. They’ll tell you shit like “No, I think I’ve put on weight in the past few weeks” or “You’re crazy”.

Few would accept the compliment and thank you for that. It’s almost like accepting a praise is being cocky or full of yourself.

To make sure you get a “Thank you” in return. Simply tell them to do that. Yes. Shut up, accept the compliment, and appreciate it.

Getting a nice response from complimenting someone is a positive reinforcement that will encourage people to give more compliments, and in the long run, make the world a friendlier, nicer place.

8. A Swede will not cross an empty street if the green man doesn’t appear.

When crossing streets without traffic lights, the Swede is completely normal. Equipped with road crossing skills taught in pre-school, they look and make sure that the road is clear of traffic before attempting to cross.

Plant a traffic light at a dedicated pedestrian crossing and watch this ability completely go down the drain.

They’ll wait for the green man at an empty street unless a rabid dog is chasing them, or maybe the dog will stand there and wait with them as well. But once the green light comes on, all hell breaks loose. No one looks at oncoming traffic anymore and everyone just crosses without any regard for possible mad drivers. Talk about following rules blindly and trusting the system.

9. Most Swedes are leftists. And refuse to acknowledge any merits of any other possible system.

The fact is, no system is a good system. Voting in politics is kinda like choosing the lesser of all evils. But the Swedes, oh man, this is where they get extremely close-minded.

When it comes to issues regarding feminism, environmental conservation, animal rights, immigration, and even drug use, there’s very little grey area to tread in.

I’ve started discussions on these issues at a bar and pointed out that even though we’re all for human and animal equality in all forms, we don’t quite believe that the current approach of feminist protests, baring breasts and flashing armpit hair will truly change anything.

“Look, if people are stupid enough to believe that some gender deserves a higher salary than another, or a certain ethnicity is a little more superior, they wouldn’t be smart enough to realise that they’re wrong,” I proposed this idea which I just came up with, in hope of getting sparking off a discussion.

I continued, “So all that overly loud display of your beliefs becomes just a form of self-expression, with little impact on the real decision makers that have the power to make a difference in the system. So really, I’m not sure where I stand on this issue.”

I mean, people keep slamming capitalism. But hey, that shit gave you H&M and IKEA. And you’ve got loads of stuff from there. Wham! That was not what they wanted to hear. You’re either in, or you’re out. So that was it, that evening, I lost some friends.

There’s no discussion. Agree, groupthink, and everyone goes home happy. Bring up a counter argument and things get really ugly, especially when they attribute a single sentence that you uttered, just for the sake of having a healthy debate, to your entire philosophy.

Don’t try this. Please. Oh, and remember, all things labeled “Eco” is good.

10. Swedes notify their peers after they’ve cracked a joke.

If you have to tell someone that you’re kidding, your joke obviously sucks. And most Swedes that we’ve encountered do that. They try to attempt some wordplay or make a snide comment, and quickly follow it with “I’m just kidding”.

We know! We know that it was a joke. Did you think that I would really get offended by your remark that my people take the term ‘hot dogs’ literally? Or that my name sounds like Ching Chong Ching?

It gives the impression that 1) you think I don’t understand jokes and 2) you think I don’t understand English. Either way, it’s not cool.

So lighten up. Crack politically incorrect jokes. And trust that people will take it with a pinch of fairtrade organic sea salt. The same goes for this article. We’re just taking a piss.

Or are we?