Cash free Sweden

I read in the paper yesterday that Sweden has taken over from the USA in terms of cash free payments. Plastic prevails in this country as does the mobile payment technology called ‘Swish’. With a simple transfer, Swedes can send money to each other via their phones. All that’s needed is a bank account, a bank ID and, of course, a mobile.

Shop after shop is putting up signs saying ‘we do not accept cash – only card and Swish’. I have to wonder if this is legal, as coins and notes are still actually legal means of payment. Do they have the right to refuse?

Sweden’s cash free society really hit home with me this morning. Sitting on the tube on the way into work, a beggar got into my carriage.

He stood in the middle of the aisle and presented a plea for the money he needed to buy food. Nobody looked at him, everybody looked at their cell phones.

In response to this, the beggar said, ‘if you prefer not to give me cash, I take Swish!’

Odd Swedish names

Ok, I know that English has quite a lot of funny names such as Dick and Willy, but Sweden also has its fair share.

Here come the top 10 hysterical and odd names that people in Sweden actually have.

  • 1. Gun. A popular name of over 18000 women in Sweden. Not bad for a pacifist country
  • 2. Jerker. Seriously. A man’s name, and also the name of a piece of furniture at IKEA.
  • 3. Saga. Ugly when pronounced in English, this name for a woman actually means ‘fairy tale’.
  • 4. Odd. An odd one this. A name owned currently by 735 men in Sweden.
  • 5. Even. Interestingly, the name Even also exists. Odd and Even would make a well-balanced coupled wouldn’t they?
  • 6. Love. It’s true. You could fall in love with a Swedish boy called Love.
  • 7. Ninni. A name of a Swedish woman. Although it means ‘an idiot’ in English, I assume all Ninnis in Sweden are not stupid.
  • 8. Knut. An unfortunate name that, at best, gets pronounced as nut, and at worst gets the letters mixed up to mean something altogether more rude
  • 9. Tintin. Yeah, it’s true. There are many people in Sweden, both male and female, who have this name. Over 500 to be more precise.
  • 10. Titti. This has to be the queen of all unfortunate Swedish names. 1024 women in Sweden currently bear this name with pride.
  • Swedish expressions – ‘more stupid than the train’

     

    prins albert

    The Swedish train system is notorious for its lack of reliability and continuous delays. Anybody who travels by train in Sweden has probably called it stupid, or worse, in anger or frustration. However, this is not where the Swedish expression (you are) ‘more stupid than the train’ comes from.

    To understand the origin of this expression, we have to travel to my home country of England and to the end of the Industrial Revolution. In the 1800’s the rail industry was booming and in 1856 Sweden imported a train from the UK, pictured above.

    A Swedish tradition is to give names to trains, and this particular train was christened ‘Prince August’ after King Oskar I’s youngest son. Prince August was well-known across the country for not being the brightest light in the Christmas tree. His weak intellect was well referred to in stories of the time. This was a period in history, however, when open criticism of the Royal family borded upon treason. So, the people created an expression – more stupid than the train – to describe somebody’s idiocy while at the same time referring ‘discretely’ to the royal fool by referencing the train of the same name.

    This tradition of naming trains, and train carriages, still exists in Sweden today. Only this morning I travelled in a carriage called Pippi, but I’m afraid it wasn’t much of an adventure. Here is a list of all the carriage names on the Stockholm underground – see if your is there!

    Have you been wondering who votes for Sweden Democrats?

    I was at an interesting lecture this week with researchers Kirsti Jylhä, Jens Ryding and Pontus Strimling. They were presenting the results from their research at the Institute of Future Studies into who are the Sweden Democrat’s (SD) voters, why do they vote for SD and where are they from? It’s taken me a while to mentally process and summarise what they said, but here is my take on it.

    The research was carried out in the form of questionnaires on several thousand voters. The research tried to look at attitudes, origins, demographics and world views.

    Fluid voters

    The majority of the SD voters have moved from Socialdemocratic party (S) and conservative Moderates (M). 62% of the supporters are more likely to vote M in the future, if they don’t vote SD.

    Critical to immigration

    The majority of SD supporters have immigration as their main issue. They are critical of immigration in general and see immigration as a threat to society. Some of the voters, but far from all, have a deeper resentment or dislike for foreigners. The main driver is fear and criticism of a ‘failed’ immigration system. Almost 100% of SD voters believe immigration costs too much. Over 80% believe that immigrants weaken the Swedish culture. Over 90% believe that immigrants are responsible for increased crime rates.

    Trust Swedes

    The SD voter has a higher level of trust towards other Swedes than to those born outside of Europe with almost 70% saying they would prefer a native Swede as a neighbour rather than a foreigner. This was 19% for S voters and 37% for M voters.

    Skeptics

    The vast majority of the participants in this research were highly skeptical towards the government and other authorities. They have an innate, higher suspicion of politicians, media and the legal system than M or S voters. They also have a larger tendency to believe in conspiracy theories.

    Feeling good

    Previous research suggests that supporters of populist parties tend to be dissatisfied and marginalised by society. This research does not support that. Quite the opposite, SD voters are satisfied with their lives and their current situations and they do not perceive their quality of life has been reduced during the last four years. However, a common concern they have is that their standard of living with get worse in the future due to costly changes in society. In comparison to S or M voters, they have a much weaker optimism about the future.

    Tolerance and respect not important

    In comparison to S and M voters, SD voters tend to think tolerance and respect are not important qualities. In the raising of children, obedience is seen as a more important quality. However, the research could not prove a larger lack of empathy amongst SD voters compared to others.

    Lower education

    37% of SD voters in the research had a higher education (eg university). Amongst S voters this is 44% and 57% amongst M. The majority of SD voters are working class.

    Conservative and authoritarian

    SD voters in much higher numbers have a conservative and authoritarian view of society. For example, over 70% think that feminism has gone too far and it is the role of the man to support the family. Over 60% believed that a strong leader is necessary to control unwelcome behaviours in a society.

    So, are SD voters stupid, racist and irrational? Judging by this research the answer is no. They are skeptical, critical and fearful.

    And they are highly rational. It makes rational sense for them to navigate towards a party that resonates most with their attitudes.

    Today is Election Day and soon we will see the result. What will win in Sweden? Will it be skepticism, criticism and fear? Or will it be pragmatism, openness and optimism?

    To see the full report, go to http://www.iffs.se and look under publications.

    Sweden’s politicians are slut spurting

    I know, i know. It sounds gross doesn’t it? ‘Sweden’s politicians are slut spurting.’ However disgusting it might sound, it is exactly what they are doing.

    With one week to go to the election, all the parties are in the final throws of their campaigning. In this final week, they try to get their message across by turning the gear up a bit. This final sprint to the finishing line is called a ‘slutspurt’ in Swedish. It’s often used to describe the final hurried days of a sale.

    And it’s what they’re all doing.

    They’re slut spurting on the tv, in the streets, in the media. It’ll be a relief when it’s all over I expect. That much spurting can’t be good for you.

    How SD is seducing you

    sd affisch

    Standing on the train platform this morning I was confronted by a huge poster from nationalistic party the Sweden Democrats, asking me to vote for them in the approaching election. The poster consisted of men and women, all white, smiling down at me in a welcoming unthreatening manner. ‘SD 2018’ – the simple slogan emblazoned across the poster – intended to show me that those who support SD today are not nazis, criminals, sexists or homophobes (as proven time and time again in the press). On the contrary they are presented as ordinary, happy people who just want a change of government.

    As I stood there, I understood how clever SD’s PR and Marketing people are. They have a strong understanding of influencing techniques – and they’re not afraid to use them to seduce the unsuspecting general public.

    Psychologist Robert Cialdini is considered the guru of influencing skills. In his ground-breaking book, ‘Influence’, he introduced six key principles on which influence is based. Based on his extensive research, he found that if we apply these principles, we are able to persuade others more easily. Used positively, they can help move us towards agreement with each other, used negatively they can be applied to manipulate and even coerce people into making decisions that might be bad for them.

    As I stood on the platform and absorbed SD’s poster, I realised how artfully they are using two of Cialdini’s principles. The principle called ‘Social Proof’ and the principle called ‘Liking’.

    Social Proof
    This principle relies on people’s sense of “safety in numbers.” If we see that others are doing something, we are more likely to do the same. It somehow feels validated. For example, we’re more likely to work late if others in our team are doing the same, put a tip in a jar if it already contains money, or eat in a restaurant if it’s full of guests. We assume that if lots of other people are doing something, then it must be OK. We’re particularly susceptible to this principle when we’re feeling uncertain, and we’re even more likely to be influenced if the people we see seem to be similar to us. That’s why commercials often use parents to advertise household products and why SD uses smiling, happy Nordic people.

    Liking
    Cialdini says that we’re more likely to be influenced by people we like. Likability comes in many forms – people might be familiar to us, we might just simply trust them or they might physically look like us. We have an inherent feeling of liking when we see them. Companies that use sales agents from within the community employ this principle with huge success. People are more likely to buy from people like themselves, from friends, and from people they know and respect. Facebook, for example, builds its business model on ‘liking’. SD uses this principle to manipulate us into thinking they are just like us. They think like us. They would never do anything to harm us. We can trust them.

    As in previous posts, I am trying to shine a light on how SD is manipulating us, society and the election. They are masters of manipulation – spreading fear and uncertainty in the minds of the susceptible electorate, when in fact Sweden is currently booming and economically very stable. There are problems in society, no doubt, but these are not best solved by giving power to a party that we know is manipulative and devious. Judging by the level of scheming we see when they are trying to gain favour, just imagine how this will escalate if they have power.

    A vote for SD is not a vote for a better Sweden.

    Do not be duped into falling for the deceit.

    You are being manipulated.

    Do not be seduced.

     

    Why is Sweden….according to Google

    A quick Google search punching in the words ‘why is Sweden..’ led to a very telling autocorrect.

    why is sweden

    • Why is Sweden so hot?
    • Why is Sweden so rich?
    • Why is Sweden so good at hockey?
    • Why is Sweden so good at sports?
    • Why is Sweden so cold?
    • Why is Sweden so innovative?
    • Why is Sweden so good at CS?
    • Why is Sweden so good?
    • Why is Sweden called Sweden?

    So, if this represents the most common searches for Sweden, it certainly seems positive! Sweden is hot, rich, good at all sorts of things and innovative! I only wish I knew what CS is –  Christmas shopping? Classic socialism? Counting suicides? Consuming spirits? Well, whatever it is, they are apparently very good at it!