People are different when it comes to tolerating silence. Someone thinks it is fine to be quiet when hanging out with friends while someone else has the need to keep the conversation going and to avoid silence. To my mind, Finnish people can cope with silence quite well. Here it is okay to sit on a bus and not to talk to anyone, especially to strangers. People usually queue in silence and don’t start a conversation just because they feel like talking. Sometimes I have had conversations with strangers while waiting for a music concert to begin. In those cases, we shared an interest in something –the band – and there was no need to figure out what to talk about.
Despite the above-mentioned examples I wouldn’t say Finnish people don’t know the art of small talk. I’ve had chats with strangers in situations I usually wouldn’t talk to anyone, e.g. when waiting for a bus or sitting on a train. Especially at bus stops older people tend to comment on the weather and then continue the conversation. I remember small talk situations well because they do not happen too often. On the other hand, it is nice to mind my own business but then again it’s great to meet new people, even if it was only for a brief chatting.
Another point of silence is the absence of noise. In cities, there are all kinds of noise, e.g. cars, construction sites, announcements… Luckily in Finland it is easy to get away from the noise. One doesn’t need to go far to get to a more silent place. There are forests and hiking trails close to cities or even within them. In today’s world noise may cause problems such as stress or a headache. If noise is work related it is hard to escape from it. That is why I value places where people can go on their free time to enjoy the silence.
I enjoy the silent social interactions with the residents of the forest, it doesn’t require a language, only our souls. Don’t you agree?