This week saw a new blog dedicated to Estonia taking the local social media by storm, going viral and gaining thousands of followers in just few days. Called Estonian Moments, it is using GIFs (graphics interchange format) to nail cheekily into some ever-present stereotypes about Estonians, as well as poking fun at some current political issues and political figures.
Mr Estonian Moment (we call him EM for now) wishes to remain anonymous, at least for now. “All I can say is that I come from a country where Estonians are generally liked and known, although there are exceptions – my hairdresser used to be one, for example. When I told her that I was moving to Estonia, she nearly cut my ear off – accidentally, I should add though,” laughs Mr Estonian Moment.
He came to study in Tartu and was up for many surprises. Full of tongue-in-cheek remarks, he comments that “he never expected to live in a country where milk is cheaper than water” and that “he has spent enough time in Estonia to get over his shyness and remove clothes in Sauna.”
Although EM reiterates that he loves Estonia, he concludes that it hasn’t been easy to make friends: “To make a good friend in Estonia is as hard as finding a good Estonian wine. Of course, I have some Estonian friends and they are all good source of inspiration for “Estonian Moments”, but almost all of them deny being “real Estonians”. Nevertheless, as his GIFs indicate, he has grasped the local characteristics pretty wittily: “I have quite a bit of understanding what is happening here, but there will be lot of learning ahead, too. I have to admit that I don’t speak Estonian yet, but I’d love to – it would also help me to produce more “Estonian moments.””
EM explains that the inspiration to set up his blog came about accidentally: “I was never into Tumblr format or into GIFs. In fact, I was quite sceptical about them. But by chance I came across to funny GIFs about some places and it pulled a trigger to go further. As I love jokes and making others laugh, I asked myself what could be more weird or strange than make jokes about Estonians. And as Estonians are e-nation, I decided to go online. So you could say that the whole phenomenon of “Estonianness” was pretty much the major inspiration.”
Although EM states that he’s not from a creative background, he’s trying to insert fresh thinking into his blog: “Many blog visitors have already questioned my motive behind it. They have been wondering whether there is a political party behind it. I can assure them that I am not challenging Edgar Savisaar, the Cucumber (he refers to a veteran Estonian opposition politician and the slightly absurd Facebook page, set up few years ago before parliamentary elections in Estonia, called “Who will get more votes – this cucumber or Edgar Savisaar?” – Editor) has already done it!”
“Estonian Moments page is more about a combination of humour and intention to trigger self-reflecting creative thinking in Estonians about themselves. On one hand, it motivates me to see somebody in front of a computer screen laughing and feeling better. On the other, I’m not interested in being online clown – I’d like Estonians to think creatively toward social issues, as well as wider cultural context and characteristics. Besides, if my blog can increase the level of Estonian humour and/or Estonia’s international ‘weirdness’ image, I would be more than happy,” EM explains.
The man behind this brave creativity is not yet sure about what the future brings: “At the moment I’m not sure what form the project will take in future, or how long it will last. Much of it depends on the interests of blog visitors, really. I would like to hear from Estonians, and from foreigners who are either living or have lived in Estonia, in which form they want this blog to take.”
“My future in Estonia also depends on my studies and subsequently on good job offers on CV.ee (major online job searching site in Estonia – Editor); and finally from the weather forecast! I believe that my personal character is actually pretty close to a general Estonian character, so I have a feeling that I would like to stay in Estonia for longer, but not in this way http://goo.gl/UQYhY!” laughs Mr Estonian Moment.
Cover photo: Kaarel Mikkin/VisitEstonia