Where have you guys been? I've been looking everywhere for you!
Oh, no, sorry, that's me. I've been missing lately. In all fairness, I've been in Finland, after some busy holidays. (I'm here until next week.)
I know what you might be thinking, if you're anything like my bank. "Finland again?" Yes, Judgemental Phone Guy, again. I was here this summer and have returned to visit friends and potentially freeze to death. So far, the weather has been awesome...not much colder than I'm used to and it's quite beautiful.
My experiences in Finland have been super interesting and eye opening. (I've never traveled anywhere before where looking at the language left me totally lost...new perspective for me.)
This is not going to be a cultural experiences post, though. I could write pages, but that is not even close to why I came here today. A friend here showed me the greatest thing this weekend.
Teletext. On the TV, you open up Teletext and there are pages of text--news headlines, weather, sports, entertainment...that kind of thing. I'm told it's present in other parts of Europe as well, but it was new for me. It's actually been around since the mid-70s, if Wikipedia is to be believed. (Sure why not.) AND I AM REALLY UPSET THIS DOESN'T EXIST IN THE UNITED STATES.
Again, I know what you might be thinking. "Amanda, if you need to know the headlines, pull out your smart phone, get your head out of your ass." BUT THIS IS SO MUCH BETTER.
Not necessarily for all my sports news needs (HA!) but because of another feature of Teletext.
Yes, a chat feature. Users can pay 1€ and send a text message to all of Finland's Teletext audience. There are different pages, including one called "family page" which I came to learn just meant "regular chatting without any of the weird stuff". As far as we could tell, the rest of the pages...are for weird stuff. Some people were sending messages about looking for someone to talk to or being lonely. Ok. Some were more specific, looking for young Asian girl to talk to. Some wanted young women to do particular things THIS DOES NOT MEAN CATCH A MOVIE OR HAVE DINNER, FYI. They include their phone numbers, because there's nothing bad that can happen when asking for a young woman with a firm ass to text your number. (This is exactly why we can't have this in the US. If we had access to this, you'd be looking at the plot of the next Lifetime movie.)
My favorite message, which I could very well have responded to, was a nice, reliable, gentle Finnish man (self-described, so it's anybody's guess what he's really like) looking for a foreign woman 24-40 to start a serious relationship. Seems legit.
I have to tell you, this changed my outlook on Finnish people. Not because I thought badly of them or anything, but because for the rest of the night, and even today, I've been looking at every person I pass and wondering, "Do you use Teletext?" Every middle aged man who passes me is a suspect in the Serious Foreign Relationship Mystery. I keep wondering who is using this service?? I mean, 1€ is expensive! And it's totally anonymous, unless you post your number, so it could be ANYBODY writing these messages! What if it's your mother? Your boss? The guy driving your bus? And say you respond because hey, you're a young woman with a firm ass! AND IT'S YOUR DAD. What if your best friend is the guy looking to do weird stuff with a young Asian woman? You can't recover from that kind of surprise in a relationship.
So, I pose to you this question, readers: would it be better to respond to a message and find that your parent posted it, or post a message and get your parent responding? I can't decide which is worse.
Finland, you still hold so many mysteries. Thanks for being such a surprise.