To Gnäll or Not To Gnäll

That is the question.

Swedes themselves do acknowledge the fact that they complain too much.
Sun goes up. Too hot. Sun disappears. Too cold.
There is seldom a perfect weather for the average Swede.

In a country where typhoons, landslides, floodings, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, drought, you name it, is in abundance, I on the other hand used to be simply indifferent to the infamous Swedish rainy and cold summer. Until of course I also got “swedified” and started to complain about it.

Ranting about the weather is the kind of complaining that is really just for the sake of complaining, and perhaps an effective, though a boring line to start a conversation with someone in Sweden.

There is another type of ranting that is rather popular here. It is about what the Swedes refer to as i-landsproblem (i-land meaning industrialized country, as opposed to u-land, meaning underdeveloped country or using a more politically correct term, developing country).

Let me first explain to my non-swedish friends what i-landsproblem means. Basically it is the result of technological innovations, creating seemingly trivial problems resulting to inconvenience. The society becomes too technologically advanced to such a level that its people gets too pampered, that the smallest glitch in the system easily gets on their nerves. Simple things which you can just shrug off can be blown out of proportion with people actually sending complaint letters to the Reader’s Corner (Insänt) of dailies. 

Let me illustrate an example. This was published in the Reader’s Corner in Metro some years ago. I remember this fairly well not only because of its seemingly incredulous nature but because I also read the same letter in Aftobladet (another dailies) by the same boy. A 12-yr old boy was complaining about the noise of the automatic door of buses. You see, when the bus closes its doors, one usually hears a faint hissing sound from the door’s pneumatic mechanism. He was wondering if Västtrafiken (the company) cannot do anything about it because he really thought the sound is very annoying. That is a typical example of an i-landsproblem. There are more like that but I cannot think of another example right now. (Maybe some of our swedish readers here can provide us with better explanation.)

Coming from an u-land, it is hard for me to grasp the concept of i-landsproblem. In the case of the boy who complained about the bus door, I cannot easily relate to that. Why, our buses don’t even have doors!

However as years passed by, I noticed that my attitude towards i-landsproblem has changed a lot. Usually, whenever some Swede complain about little things which normally don’t bother me, I just think that he/she was just being too fussy. Now I can sympathize more.

In fact, I honestly think it is good that people complain about small things. If you wait with your complaint when the problem is already big, then it would be harder to solve it. But if you complain right away about little things, then simple remedies can easily be made.

So to all the Swedes who think they rant too much, don’t be too hard on yourselves. Every small complaint you make leads to incremental improvement and modernization of the Swedish society. Always remember that ranting is good for the future generations…

…of yet another breed of ranters.

About metromogli

MOGLi - A Brown in the Land of the Blues and Blondes
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12 Responses to To Gnäll or Not To Gnäll

  1. Rakotozafy says:

    :))) Uuhm, I have a feeling you’ve been assimilating too much. Maybe you should take a look at this here:, probably you already have :)Take care, good night, R.

  2. Smek This! says:

    A brilliant blog article, liked it totally! I suppose I’m a complainer as well, but it didn’t hurt my feelings. Very well written, thank you!

  3. swedish reader says:

    Nice piece of essay, MOGLI! The ending was perfect. If this were in Swedish, it could have easily beat many of the essays in the column section of Metro.

  4. Mim says:

    Haha, yes, we do like to complain about things, if only just to have something to talk about.Yesterday I (however with some irony) complained that I couldn’t decide which one of our two showers I would use… Or we sometimes joke about which one of our three toilets to use. That really is a difficult problem ;-DAnother i-landsproblem is of course when the remote is missing and we actually have to walk ALL the way to the television set to change channel. That is just soooo annoying!

  5. MOGLI says:

    @R: That was a long list! I could relate to a lot of them and maybe you’re right that I’ve been assimilating too much.

  6. MOGLI says:

    @Smek This: Thanks. Yes, the entry is supposed not to hurt the feelings of ranters. On the contrary it is about encouraging them to rant more! hehehe…

  7. MOGLI says:

    @swedish reader: thanks, i’m flattered! btw, do you have a blog at metrobloggen which I could link to my “The 300” list?

  8. MOGLI says:

    @Mim: I can imagine the dilemma in your home whenever you want to take a dump! hahaha. That remote control example is one of the best ilandsproblem I heard! That’s so true! hehehe

  9. Lian says:

    That is also a thing I have noticed, Swedes seem to complain about almost everything (no offence). In the beginning it really annoyed me, but now.. I think I’m slowly becoming Swedish ;). Nice post!

  10. Lotus says:

    Det enda vi svenskar har att prata om är faktiskt vädret. Så sant! Gnäll, gnäll 🙂

  11. Max says:

    We don’t complain that mcuh do we? Look, Sweden is an “i-land” and we don’t have that many “real” problems as you do in the Philippines. That’s were the “I-landsproblem” comes from. An I-landsproblem doesn’t have to be about anything technical as you, Mogli stated. the phrase “i-landsproblem” actually started at a comedy show , called “Hipp Hipp”, where in every episode they had a sketch called “Dagens I-landsproblem” (This week’s “I-landsproblem”). once there was a guy who complained that the chips that were left were too small so it was hard t dip. It was like: “Åhmme, de e ju bara små chips kvar, de här går ju inte dippa me!”. It was really funny, actually… That boy and the bus door is a another pretty funny (and, unfortunately, real) example.

  12. mogLi says:

    @Max: Thanks for the input man! Hipp hipp is really a funny show. I saw some of it on DVD. The Svenska för invandrare segment is a blast! And Tiffany, that cross-dressing skåning is very entertaining! Hahaha!

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