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Kinda — 3 Comments

  1. Hi! (As is tradition in the ancient art of Youtube, I will claim ‘FIRST!!!!’ for my comment) I live in the Mac-Groveland Neighborhood (born and raised).
    I noticed right off the bat that you had categorized Minnesota Nice in nearly the exact same terms as Janteloven, or the Law of Jante, which is a usually-Scandinavian sociological structure where the basic tenant is “You (the individual) are not as important as us (the group)”. Janteloven stifles creativity and individualism because personal success might make others feel bad and break the sense of community. You’re not supposed to stand out but instead have to uphold everyone’s values. Open disagreement is frowned upon (passive-aggressiveness rules here) because you’re implying that your opinion is more valid, which is prideful. Janteloven’s certainly related to Minnesota Nice; after all, a huge percentage of early settlers were Scandinavian. In some ways MN Nice is just another form of Janteloven which has been tapered with some American-Dreamy-individualism. But not too much, because that might make the neighbors feel bad.
    Janteloven does make sense in certain ways, though, historically speaking- in an extreme climate like Norway or Minnesota, communities have to be tight-knit or everyone would starve or freeze to death.

  2. Thanks so much Addie! Fascinating tip on Janteloven. I spent a happy hour reading about the concept and its close correlates in other nations, including “The nail that sticks up gets hammered down” (Japan) and “Tall Poppy Syndrome” (Hawaii). The fact that the native Hawaiian culture has developed a similar group-first, individual-last stance argues against its origin in the rigors of a hostile environment (e.g. winter). I believe that the Law of Jante is one extreme of a polarity common to all human populations: cultures find a balance, perhaps a broad or a shifting one, in the spectrum from collectivism to individualism.

  3. I’m surprisingly proud (ironic, isn’t it, based on the context) that you mentioned me in a later post! Also I’m glad you were interested by the concept! I wonder, though, since Japan and Hawaii are both island nations (which both have volcanoes btw) which by nature limits the population by a certain amount (until the industrial/second agricultural revolutions, but I’m getting ahead of myself) if that affects the value system. Like, Janteloven developed from harsh isolated environments while Tall Poppy Syndrome developed from needing everyone to not overachieve lest everyone starve? I dunno, but it’s a cool theory. (Also, it interests me that Hawaii has that social focus — normally one thinks of Hawaii as a laid-back paradise, right? Guess they’d get along with Minnesotans if the cold didn’t make us so depressed.) The opposite side of the Individual/Collective scale would I suppose be more embodied by Germany or America (which also makes sense seeing as America’s current largest ancestor group was German). So I suppose that’s why we feel a bit torn here in MN — we’re supposed to strive for greatness but not make people feel bad about it.
    I love sociology and history in case you haven’t noticed. Apparently I do have a use for that Human Geography course from Sophomore year!

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