Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Internet is for...

...Summer cottage! Wait, what? That sentence wasn´t supposed to end like that. But alas, it just did. Because today, we´re discussing a bit of using technology in archaic circumstances. The heresy! So, forget the metal thingies for now- this is more of a personal rant from someone who´s grown up in a culture where manliness is measured by the depth of the burnt part in your sausage which you roasted in a open fire with about 10.000 mosquitoes. Sure, I can live with that- after all, I am a Finn, male, and I love summer cottages and camping. And burnt sausage! But what I don´t get is the intentional archaic, even lutheran humility we instantly bathe on since the moment when we start to unload the car at the front of our summer cottage. Oh wait, actually we walked the last hundred meters because roads are Satan´s invention. In fact, we should had walked there in a snowstorm.

The one debunkable myth of the Finnish "summer cottage culture" has to be pointed out when discussing the use of internet. And that is the "WHY NO U LIVE LIEK TRUE AKRIKULTUARL FINNS IN CABIN". Well, simply because you won´t either. Read more to find out what´s my beef on this thing!

The amount of summer cabins without a some sort of radio apparatus is probably close to zero since the 1960´s. And for what it comes to some ancient - yet working- television, don´t even get me started. Every cottage has one. Besides, TV´s are nowadays so cheap that you could get one to that cottage for a € 100 unless you want to play a hypocrite and use that early grandfather´s old 1980´s crap instead "because it´s more real and TRUE".
My point? Finnish summer cottage culture includes radio and television, and it has been like that since electricity was drawn to those mosquite- infested huts. They are used for news and entertainment- which is basically subtle music in the daytime or watching the National Lottery from the telly after sauna. Sometimes people get all crazy and bring old CD´s from home to listen if the radio has a CD player built- in. Or, they might burn a copy of some really shitty old movie at home and bring that to be watched later with that TV which has a DVD slot. But why? Why don´t we actually bring good music and good movies with us? Surely they take the same space in the luggage?

Because, the rule #1 in the entertainment in Finnish summer cottage culture is that "If there´s something too modern, you cannot use it properly and break these unwritten rules, ashaming your family line". 

TV´s have to be tuned in a way that half of the channels are missing. The radio is stuck into the crappiest schlager channel forever. The CD´s you brought have to be some gas- station compilations of old classics "NOW PERFORMED BY AN EX- POLITICIAN AND SINGING DOGS!!!".It´s the way it has always been and an integral part of the humble Finnish culture. We can´t have working, modern technology in summer cabins. Period.

So, as this is why we can´t have nice things, you can guess how much laughter it always raises when I rig up the personal entertainment section up when we arrive anywhere. Cottage, hotel, even the childbirth room in the hospital (!!). I always carry that with me when we spend nights somewhere with the whole family. Nothing fancy though- just some small speakers, a 9" tablet in a stand, different chargers and stuff. That´s my news, my radio, my television. GOD FORBID if I want my news and music to be available where I want it and when I want it.
Or if I want to watch an episode of "The Walking Dead" with my wife when the kids have gone to bed? No, we are to fill crossword puzzles and read magazines from the mid 80´s instead. (Which is awesome entertainment every now and then though, mind you.)
If the signal is too weak inside, I´ll rig up the phone outside when needed, switch tethering on and use that. I just returned from a trip where I had to build a home- made signal booster from an empty beer can and aluminium foil for the phone, which was tethering the signal to inside. It took me some time and I was proud of myself when it finally worked.

But let me remind you- it´s not the same that climbing to the roof to fix a TV antenna for that B/W telly in heavy rain being drunk, holding a burnt sausage. There´s a certain code, and if the deed you do doesn´t involve visible things fixed, it´s not counted as honorable thing.

I get the point of people holding pitchforks, screaming NO INTERNET IN SUMMER COTTAGE. They are probably direct descendants of the people back in the days claiming electricity in the same cottages to be the devil´s work. But the thing is that I don´t use that internet for posting pictures of my burnt sausages into Facebook. I use it for the same reason you use radio- music and news. I use it for getting my ebooks and comics out from the cloud to read in that uncomfortable chair someone´s grandpa bought after the war.
I use it for getting the information on tomorrow´s weather and possible weather warnings. For me, it´s radio, tv, books, comics and newspaper combined together, blasted with the possibility to get any information out on cooking the fish I just catched into "dad, what are those weird bugs in the porch?" So next time you think the internet is only for stupid people in stupid Facebook and for reading that work email, the problem might actually be despicable you.

Okey, I intentionally left something out. I have to confess that last time I rigged the tablet into a tv with a HDMI cable and played Donkey Kong Country with my son, using an emulator and a bit modified PS3- controller in a rainy afternoon.
But hey, isn´t the time spent on summer cottages meant to spend for relaxation and good times? We sure had both, and that didn´t even involve internet.

The writer is a 34- year old musician, a rare hybrid of techno- pagan and a person who had a great urge this time of emulating a stupid typical column text from a magazine.


  1. We don't have an equivalent of "Summer Cottage Culture" in California. People in my area who do have cabins usually have them around Lake Tahoe ( ). The area's as mountainous and forested and tranquil as anywhere, but the mentality attached to going there is usually to there to DO something. Instead of going there to get away from where you are, people usually go to do things can't do in their own town like skiing/snowboarding, hiking, boating, cliff jumping, camping, etc. etc.

    So because there isn't a mentality of going there to strip something away, people bring electronics and internet along with them, people's cabin's have TVs and video games like anywhere else, and the cities on the shores of the lake are filled with casinos.

    "Summer Cottage Culture" seems to me to be generally more about getting away from something than going towards something (after all, can't Grandpa read in his book in Helsinki?). So I guess the question is, why is there a prevailing cultural attitude of wanting time away from modernity?

    "So next time you think the internet is only for stupid people in stupid Facebook and for reading that work email, the problem might actually be despicable you."

    My guess is that this is the heart of the issue. Maybe being in a place like Finland and being raised in Finnish culture clashes a bit with people live-tweeting every event and having their noses constantly buried in their phones, and summer cottages are a place to wash away the guilt of that. Maybe someone like you who seems to have a healthy relationship with technology doesn't feel the same need to cottage caveman-style because there's no technology guilt to try to wash away.

    Or maybe I have no idea what I'm talking about the issue is actually much different, haha.

  2. Agreed. Also, DK Country fucking rules.

  3. Well here in Canada people buy these chalet that are as big as their homes. But I guess I could buy some land and build a small place. I would look like a fool but who cares. I prefer your ways in that regard.