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On Socialising

One thing I’ve no­ticed dur­ing my past half ish year of trav­el­ing out­side of Europe is the dif­fer­ence in how young peo­ple in­ter­act and so­cialise with each other, com­pared to the cus­toms in my na­tive coun­try Sweden.

The Problem”

People seem to have more fun in South America, with less al­co­hol.

The Explanations”

(or Observations I’ve made, and what fol­lows is a ram­bling mess I’ve tried to tie to­gether into some­thing that could re­sem­ble a co­her­ent opin­ion on the mat­ter”).

Work hard, since that shit will pay off  — Don’t be flam­boy­ant and too happy all the time, peo­ple will think you’re a crazy per­son — Having a glass of wine for lunch on a Tuesday?! What are you, an al­co­holic? — Jesus, are you dressed like that lit­tle thing for the beach? — Um, we can’t go to the club yet, I’m not drunk yet. We won’t have fun sober, you know?

Those are com­mon things you hear here and there in Sweden.

One time in Brazil, north of Rio de Janeiro, me and my group of friends was at a bar with live mu­sic. We no­ticed a larger num­ber of fam­i­lies with small chil­dren around. The clock was around per­haps around 21-22 in the evening. I could see the Moral Police of Sweden go­ing Rambo on their asses with This is not a suit­able en­vi­ron­ment for a child! There’s al­co­hol around!”. Oh re­ally, you don’t say? My friend el­e­gantly put it some­thing like:

The par­ents here aren’t shit drunk, of course. They bring their kids to this so­cial gath­er­ing to be with them — just to hang out with their kids. To teach them the sub­tle ways of com­mu­ni­cat­ing in groups and so­cial­is­ing with strangers. Simply treat them as peo­ple.

Nordic peo­ple aren’t renowned for their ex­tro­vert flam­boy­ance and open­ness – more for their un­will­ing­ness to talk with strangers, not mak­ing too much noise for them­selves, and fore­most the in­abil­ity to han­dle the prices on al­co­hol in warmer coun­tries dur­ing va­ca­tion. Even though the word lagom” in Swedish means just right — not more, not less” we have a ter­ri­ble habit of do­ing the op­po­site: ei­ther be the stiff per­son who does­n’t let loose on a samba party, or be that shit drunk per­son who goes way too far. Not that lagom.

This kind of hyp­o­crit­i­cal think­ing in so­cial en­vi­ron­ments is more rare in South America. Alcohol is­n’t a cen­tral stim­u­lant, even though you of course can buy it any­where at al­most any time of the day. It feels like peo­ple of all ages and gen­ders are hav­ing fun when they’re to­gether. Why would­n’t they?

Is it be­cause we don’t in­vite our kids to the party ear­lier on? Teaching, no, show­ing them social man­ners” and how to have su­per fun with­out al­co­hol? They won’t do as you tell them any­way — they’ll do as you do.

Politics, Social Dictatorship, and Bullshittery

A friend linked me a piece on YouTube about var­i­ous facets of Swedish men­tal­ity and cul­ture through­out the years. It sharply high­lights the sad des­tiny of our so­cial life on beer cafés” — in­sti­tu­tions sim­i­lar to the British pubs. The nar­ra­tor points to the fact that Swedes of­ten has a need of being some­body, some­where”. We have few so­cial in­sti­tu­tions in Sweden where you just can be as you are, and not feel like you’re be­ing put in a box.

An el­derly man (back in the 1960s) in the video above puts it:

Well, we need a place to go to. Where else are we sup­posed to meet peo­ple? We can’t in­vite every­body home all the time.

In the land of Equality, Lagom, and Jante, peo­ple have had the need to set them­selves aside in some sub­tle way. In this case, it’s about go­ing to that spe­cific club, or hang­ing out at this ob­scure sub­cul­tural bar. There are few regular fuck­ing bars and cafés” around, with de­cently priced drinks and food. The lev­els of pre­ten­tious­ness are soon be­com­ing un­bear­able.

Some back story: in Sweden, the gov­ern­ment con­trols all sales of al­co­hol. All stores are gov­ern­ment owned, with quite rigid open­ing hours and quite high prices on es­pe­cially hard liquor (I can rant on about this god­for­saken mo­nop­oly, but let’s not go into that). There are also strict food and al­co­hol laws for restau­rants, clubs, and bars, which in it­self is good but to a limit.

Zoom back to South America. Or Rio, where I cur­rently am lo­cated, where I sel­dom no­tice a branded bar” or some­thing out of the or­di­nary. Everything is what it is. You drink beer on wooden (or on au­then­tic plas­tic) chairs on the curb, where the bar is a hole-in-the-wall in­sti­tu­tion. I doubt the bar in ques­tion needs to ap­ply for some silly war­rant from the city to have that. The tab sel­dom goes above $6 per per­son if you’re two peo­ple split­ting a few large beers (that’s the min­i­mum price for a small sin­gle beer in Sweden …).

Does Sweden have too strict al­co­hol and food laws, which hin­der small busi­ness to grow and let peo­ple eat and drink out more of­ten, in or­der to so­cialise and get out of their houses? Yes, I be­lieve so.

Insecurities

Feminism should be a base­line every­where, since the world is cur­rently skewed be­tween the gen­ders. Violence, abuse, un­bal­anced work­ing con­di­tions, ha­rass­ment, slurs, at­ti­tudes. All that crap that a huge part of women need to put up with every day. That’s one thing Swedes do bet­ter than South America: the ma­cho at­ti­tude and con­ser­v­a­tive lines here are strong.

A lot of nice but awk­ward young men are opt­ing out of ap­proach­ing women be­cause there is no op­por­tu­nity for them to make mis­takes with­out suf­fer­ing worse em­bar­rass­ment than ever.

The Sexodus: Part 1

I read an ar­ti­cle from 2014 called The Sexodus: Men giv­ing up on women and check­ing out of so­ci­ety. I highly rec­om­mend it, even though I think the ar­ti­cle is a bit from a sin­gle point of view and down­plays rape cul­ture.

It brings up on how young, white males are so ex­tremely filled with in­struc­tions on how they should be­have in so­ci­ety. They’re con­stantly be­ing told to check their priv­i­leges”, even though they might come from a not-so-easy-go­ing, strug­gling lower class back­ground — but still be­ing white guys.

This is also dis­cussed in the slightly ir­rel­e­vant piece Democracies end when they are too de­mo­c­ra­tic — on how the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion in the US with Donald Trump might be due to our ob­ses­sive­ness with democ­racy and political cor­rect­ness”, which has now been turned against us.

On white, male priv­i­lege:

Even if you agree that the priv­i­lege ex­ists, it’s hard not to em­pathize with the ob­ject of this dis­dain. These work­ing-class com­mu­ni­ties, al­ready alien­ated, hear — how can they not? — the glib and easy dis­missals of white straight men” as the ul­ti­mate source of all our woes.

Young men are con­fused. The old ways” of in­ter­act­ing with the other sex sim­ply don’t hold up any longer, since you’re not sure if you’re of­fend­ing the other per­son or not. And now the rad­i­cal fem­i­nists say

Buu-fucking-huu, you dick, are you com­par­ing that with the shit us women been through for the last hun­dreds of years? #mantears”

Nope. Not com­par­ing. Just putting it out there that so­ci­ety is af­fect­ing men in ways you might not think about. I’m not say­ing we should ad­here to tra­di­tional gen­der roles. Things need to change. Men and women are equal.

This lack of firm foun­da­tion is some­thing I haven’t ex­pe­ri­enced in Brazil, where young peo­ple seem so se­cure in them­selves and how they are when so­cial­is­ing. It’s so fluid, so nor­mal, no fuss­ing around, no ten­sion. Again: fo­cus on the fun.


I find it sad that the Swedish so­ci­ety as a whole is­n’t open­ing up its eyes and see how it’s not so dan­ger­ous to lower the guard on let­ting restau­rants and bars pop up here and there, do­ing their thing. It’s sad that young peo­ple have to end up in the ditch every time they go out, since it’s the only world they know. It’s sad that we don’t have a so­ci­ety where no mem­ber of the sexes need to feel fright­ened, threat­ened, in­se­cure, or em­bar­rassed when they in­ter­act with the op­po­site.

When I’m out in Brazil, I know it’s gonna be fun – re­gard­less of the peo­ple in­volved. Not so in Sweden. Even though I pre­fer meet­ing new peo­ple all the time, the safe bet of­ten is to hang out with peo­ple you know. Since oth­ers are of­ten too drunk, or too bor­ing to talk to while hav­ing your over­priced beer in a bar that prob­a­bly will change style from Eco Hipster” to Bulgarian Iranian Fusion” in a few years.