Ei hakutuloksia.

Text Elias Peltonen Picture Markku Mujunen

Why Finland Sucks – This Is the Less Advertised Side of Finland

The history that has been left unaddressed. The unseen people whose opportunities seem lost. Alcohol, violence, suicides… This is the less advertised side of Finland.

Finland became independent a hundred years ago. To celebrate the anniversary year there have been many stories in Finnish media glorifying our country and saying how Finland is ”the best country to live in”.

But there are things Finns aren’t so proud to talk about. If you look at our history, there are grim and shameful times and events throughout the past hundred years.

The use of narcotic substances was common during the war. Some of the soldiers coming back from the battlefront were highly addicted to methamphetamine, morphine and heroin.

In 1918, only a couple of months after becoming independent, Finland was amid one of the bloodiest civil wars in modern history relative to its population. The failed revolution of the left-wing Red Guards ended up killing almost one percent of the population.

Most of the casualties came not from the battles but from executions after the battles or from famine and diseases in prison camps established by the White Guards after the war.

Next few decades were the times of white terror. Fascistic movement Lapuan liike kidnapped leftist activists and drove them to the border of the Soviet Union. The Social Democratic Party was also left out of the national decision making even though it was the largest party in the Parliament during these decades.

 

When the Second World War broke in 1939, the torn nation came together to defend against the attack of the Soviet Union. World War became eventually another stain in Finnish history as Finland fought the end of the war side by side with Nazi Germany.

The use of narcotic substances was common during the war. Some of the soldiers coming back from the battlefront were highly addicted to methamphetamine, morphine and heroin.

After the lost war, the influence of the Soviet Union in Finnish domestic policies started growing. During this time of ”finlandization” the Soviet Union dictated the suitable politicians and ruling parties. This lasted almost to the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

In 1990s, after a long period of economic growth, Finland underwent a devastating economic depression. The unemployment rate rose to new heights and hasn’t returned to the numbers before the depression. Today nearly half of the unemployed people have been without a job for over a year. There is a great risk for them to be excluded from most social networks.

 

Today Finland is one of the top countries by many international standards: most stable, freest, safest, best governance, least organized crime, best primary education, most literate, lowest maternal mortality.

When the state of the country is painted so rosy, it shifts focus away from the least fortunate and their problems. Professor of Social and health policy, Juho Saari from the University of Tampere, who has specialized in the research of welfare and loneliness, thinks that defining risk groups has gotten harder than before.

”It has been easy to define a sick or an unemployed person as a member of a clear risk group. Now there are more people with problems that are harder to identify. This is challenging for social security systems because of their need to identify a certain risk or reason to function properly”, says Saari.

 

Another challenge comes from the wealthy but unequal society we live in. Saari mentions loneliness as one of the root causes for many of the problems.

”Mostly people think of loneliness as a personal thing or common to a certain type of people, but in reality it is strongly connected to social status.”

In most European countries people turn to their families for support, but in Finland the support comes more often from friends.

”This means that the supportive social relationships are more and more the product of negotiation. There is a risk, that people can be left out of these relationships. It leads to a rising number of transparent people. Nobody seems to notice them. They are left out of social relationships and opportunities.”

Saari estimates that the paradox  of Finnish welfare society isn’t the cumulation of disadvantages for certain people, but that some people can’t get onboard of the advancement like most of the Finns.

”When you are in a common Finnish path of rising prosperity, there are no limits to what you can achieve. The situation for the people who have had difficulties in life, is not getting worse than before, but the gap between them and the general population grows larger.”

When the state of the country is painted so rosy, it shifts focus away from the least fortunate and their problems.

Hopeless situations lead to many of the more visible problems in Finland. For example, Finland has one of the highest suicide rates in Europe. The amount of suicides has been decreasing for 25 years, but in 2015 the suicide rate was still the 8th highest in the European Union.

Another problem for Finland has been alcohol consumption. Finnish drinking culture is heavily centered on getting intoxicated as fast as possible. Also, nearly half of the alcohol is consumed by 10 percent of the total population.

And in many cases alcohol consumption leads to violence. Most homicides, rapes and assaults are targeted at the perpetrators’ family members or friends. Large number of them are done under the influence of alcohol.

In 2014 a study by the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency showed that Finland was the second most violent country in the EU for women to live in. In 2015 Amnesty International criticized Finland for not providing sufficient support for women who have been victims of violence.

 

There are also long-term societal matters with conscription army and gender reassignment. All Finnish males must undergo a military or civil service.

UN Human Rights Committee and Amnesty International have repeatedly condemned the imprisonment of conscientious objectors who refuse to serve in military or civil service. The exemption of women is also a gender inequality problem.

The treatment of transgender people has raised some questions. For example, if you want to change your legal gender, you must undergo a sterilization procedure.

Finland is a great country for most people. It’s still far from perfect.

  1. Andrew

    Mmmm, a qualification suggestion for the last sentence
    …Finland is a great country for most working people, and others whose income is way ABOVE the poverty level! It is VERY far from perfect!…… for myself, a single pensioner 76, who speaks no Finnish, and has insufficient money to even get to visit a doctor or nurse, and saves up to have an occasional hamburger, etc….
    There seems to be no accountability or integrity evident anywhere. Nobody gives a damn! Nothing works as it is supposed to. ”Good enough” is just not really very good at all.
    I hope my teenage daughters are sensible enough to plan their future elsewhere where housing is affordable and where healthcare is free, at least for poverty stricken pensioners, who are unable or unwilling to go to beg for bread. Hmmm, enough said.

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  2. Jose

    This place sucks no matter which metrics you use to measure happiness. I have been living here for 10 years and I am leaving for good. Best thing I have done here is not having kids.

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  3. Mari

    Finland is not a good country to live. I too lived here for 10 years (like Jose) and I have suffered the consequences (discrimination at work, poverty due to unemployment and so on) but I’m finally moving out. What’s sad is how foreigners must feel when they read about how great Finland is in the news. All my foreign friends are being discriminated against.
    Oh, Finns are also very racist people. A Finn told me this (they ’re not ashamed to admit)

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  4. BH

    Finland is over rated in media in terms of happiness. It’s a miserable place for most of the foreigners. You’ll have everything here except mental happiness. And I guess, that is the main reason why many want to leave this holy country!

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  5. Roussos

    Thank you for this enlightening article. But, we’re all welcome to the real world, where real people live in real places and people make mistakes. Nothing new. We’re discussing new standards of living in an old established world. We all have a history behind us. And we all have experiences in our lives. And advertising Finland to be such a good place to live in, it’s like advertising a cruise in the Caribbean, some people might love it whereas others might not like it after all, being on a boat for days and days. Nothing new.

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  6. John Doe Jr.

    Yeah, do everything you can to not end up living in Finland!
    This country is no happy country at all,
    them dummies vote like that because they have a Napoleon complex and don’t want others to know the truth,
    these folks actually suffer mentally here.
    It is also a very boring country,
    very little atmosphere to speak of ,
    I’d say not so bad atmosphere but the lack of it entirely.
    The kind of country that may feel ok at first but the longer you linger around,
    the worse it gets!
    Yeah, take it from me, I really do know what I’m talking about and I have no reason to lie to any of you out there.

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  7. Kekkonen

    I fully agree with the article and with most of the statements above me in the comments. I have been here for almost 4 years and loneliness creeped in really fast. It is very hard to connect with people, very hard to tell if they want you to be around, very hard to understand how they brag about not having to do ”small talk” because according to them it’s banal and superficial, but then when they small talk it’s all about the weather? They never communicate with each other and let their inner demons and worries only come out when they are drunk, oh, then they are everything they wish they were in their sober lives, clearly. Stop lying to yourselves, Finns. I know a lot of you and 90% are clinically depressed, go to see a therapist periodically and can’t stand any small setbacks in life without letting a huge and loud VITTU, getting stressed and making it seem like the world is gonna end. This is the consequence of such an easy life in a country where everything is just WAY too easy!

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  8. Fuckit

    I can only agree.

    Although a beautiful country to visit in Summer, ”the Happiest country in the World” is only a branding trick with a questionable methodology.

    I have been to many places in the World, including some of the last dictatorship. I am fully aware that no places are perfect and Finland does better than many on some aspects.

    Been living over 10 years here, move voluntarily, never been unemployed, salary way above average… But I am a foreigner. EU citizen, but a foreigner.

    I have been victim of discrimation multiples time, violent ones and more perverse, silent ones.
    I have seen the inexistent empathy from finns, from friends but most worrying from professionals.
    I have seen dozens of finnish friends cheating their wife, a national sport, cover by the alcohol excuse.
    I have seen most of my acquaintances divorcing.
    I see everyday the queue at alko at 9am, the queue at the slot machines available everywhere, shoplifters desperate for a beer, junkies, etc..
    I have experienced the finnish ”drunk tank”, being put for wrong reasons. Reason being a foreigner. A finn in similar situation would have been driven to next taxi stop. Longest 12 hours of my life in a shithole which doesnt respect even human rights.

    That was the last straw. I used to love and respect Finland but I hate it, profoundly.

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  9. Jussi

    Sad to say these writings..but mostly true! Living here with my foreigner wife,i have started to feel foreigner even myself,as a finn!And even some finns actually are so jealous and envy about us,even we are not so called better income people.What actuallu pisses me off certain people who don,t give a shit about anything or no moral at all and respect for elder people!Really pisses me off!!!No working intrest communist fucked up system for 100 years!I have spoken.

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  10. A

    Im 25 years old and I have been here now 4 years. And what I can say is that this country is really good to maybe study or make good money, but… NOT FOR LIVING!
    My biggest problems here is the people and winter. The winter should be okey if you are with nice people but theres no nice people…. Most of them are always with angry face and thinking that they are better than you, cuz they have money… What I learned here is that I dont give a fuck about money if im not happy. I had a good salary here, good work… Everything should be okey, but no… I just cant with the people here, and its hard to explain how stupid they can be (Not all of them but 80% yes)
    I hope i can go far away from this country…
    But any way, if you want to make good money, or study something, then its nice place for 2-3 years, but after that get out of here.
    Its only my opinion.

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  11. Gabi

    I live in Finland even if im half finnish only. The problem with Finland is that everyone pretends to be happy, but they really ain’t. And people drink alcohol witch had obviously a negative effect but real unspoken problem is adult entertament. It’s one of the few reasons why people do suicide in Finland. You might think that adult entertament is something good but it actually has the same side effects that drugs, alcohol and smoking has. In the future everyone will know how harmful adult entertament is.
    If actually don’t believe me go to uoutube watch: why adult entertament is dangerous. And people should rather jerk than watch adult entertament. It DESTROYS lives and wastes huge amoant of time.

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  12. Nicky

    Well after many years here i am done with this country, racism, ignorance, drunks, haters, problematic finnish neighbors, i had to call the police and make complaints hundreds of times because they do noises, after 22:00.. Still they are wild like animals with no education and respect.. Something is wrong with this people.. They are not normal at all they have a lot of mental problems

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