The next thing that strikes the visitor is that everybody seems to be using a mobile phone. You wouldn’t believe that the Finns are supposed to be the most silent, non-talkative nation in the world. Put a phone in their hands and they will talk away for hours! Even the Finns find this reversal of their national characteristic quite humorous and joke, “How do you get a Finn to talk? Put a phone in his hand!” A recent national advertising campaign in Finland for mobile phones conveyed the message, “Helping Finns talk more”.
In 1991, Finland inaugurated the first Global System Mobile (GSM) network in the world; by 1999, 60 per cent of the population were mobile phone users; by 2006, 124 per cent of the population had a subscription (obviously some people have more than one). They are the highest per capita users of mobile phones in the world. Interestingly, Finland, as a nation, adopted the ordinary telephone faster than any other country. The Finns go for modern technology in a big way, and constantly look for ways of using it in their everyday lives. A mobile phone can be used to operate vending machines; the cost of the chocolate bar is added to the user’s telephone bill. Even the smallest companies have all the latest technological gadgets.
Tourist about mobile phones
I remember watching three gentlemen, in the quiet of a hotel breakfast-room, sitting at the same table having breakfast. None of them were taking much notice of the others for they were all too busy talking on their phones. It is extremely common to see people in a restaurant get up from the table, whilst answering their phone, and walk to a secluded spot to carry on their conversation. In Finnish society, it is considered good manners to excuse yourself from the company of others to conduct your conversation in private. So important is the mobile phone to a Finn that I concluded, shortly after I arrived in Finland, that the name “coffee-break” was a misnomer and renamed it “telephone time”.