Wednesday, January 5, 2011


In sweden we've got something called the "Jante-law". Everyone in sweden knows about it and what it means, but I don't think many of us know where it came from and why we have it. I'd describe it as the "swedish way". Don't ever think you're better than anyone else. According to wikipedia similar laws exist in Norway and Denmark. Here are the 10 rules of the Jante Law. They actually say alot about us swedes (or scandinavians perhaps).

   1. Don't think you're anything special.
   2. Don't think you're as much as us.
   3. Don't think you're wiser than us.
   4. Don't convince yourself that you're better than us.
   5. Don't think you know more than us.
   6. Don't think you are more than us.
   7. Don't think you are good at anything.
   8. Don't laugh at us.
   9. Don't think anyone cares about you.
  10. Don't think you can teach us anything.

I agree some of them sound like bad translations from swedish, but overall they're correct. You might laugh, but the Jante Law is deeply embedded into the swedish soul, whether we like it or not. We might not think about it, or we might think we've outgrown the old Jante Law (since it dates back from early 20th century) but we haven't. Even our language shows this. Swedish has, unlike most european languages, completely removed all titles and "fine language" from daily conversations. In something called the "You-reform" that came in the late 60's, we removed everything that would distinguish people from eachother. No one was to be special anymore. We don't use "Mr" or "Mrs" when talking to people we don't know. We don't say "Dr" or "Sir". We say "you" to anyone, except our monarchs (for some reason). This can actually put us in very special situations. We're lucky that english use "you" for both singular and plural, most other languages don't do this. For example germans use "Du" as the familiar word and "Sie" for unfamiliarity. When visiting my relatives in germany I constantly do this wrong, putting me in awkward situatons. You don't say "Du" to someone you don't know! But in sweden we do.

Imagine what happens when we encounter people from all across the world through our internets. Fortunately, few people care about the way you speak to them, as long as you don't call people names. This time the awkwardness is the other way around. Instead of us swedes being unpolite, I can sometimes be astounded by the way people shamelessly brag about things on the internet. Everytime I see someone flaunt their e-peen my submissive and humble swedish soul gets shocked. "Wow, look at him just boast his mount like that. What a twat! Doesn't he know that no one cares?".

Urban Dictionary defines E-peen as "internet slang for ego, pride, or attitude in the virtual world. long standing net definition for the age old "bigger penis" arguement." [Sic]

Although UD might not be the best place on the internets to look for thruths (if there even are any thruths left on the internet, hmm, material for a new post!) it can give us a rudimentary definition of what an e-peen is. This is a fascinating subject since it, whether we like it or not, makes out a rather big part of our WoW gaming today. It is similar to other unwanted behaviors, like ninjas and general rudeness, in that you feel like you can engage in it because no one really knows who you are anyway. You're safe. It differs from these in that the game promotes the bragging. WoW is all about flaunting your e-peen.

We run around with titles, mounts, gear and pets that all say "look, I've got something that you don't. I'm special". I'm sure we all have one thing of which we are really proud and that we display just to have other people awe over us. Some are collectors of pets, mounts, rp-gears, you name it. What would be the reason to collect rare things if not to be able to say "I am one of few people who own this, I am special"? I did proudly run around with my Bane of the Fallen Lich King. I don't currently display it, but I do whenever I want to let people know that "hey, look what I've managed. Yeah I'm special". Or I could, in some random pug, casually mention that killing the last boss in Nexus was nothing when compared to killing Yogg-Saron! The random puggers just look at me and think "ok.". I ride around in my Mimiron's Head Mount and feel special. I don't fly around outside of the auction house though so that everyone can see me. But I bet I would if I ever found something that was really, really special or cool. I did stand around in my Anathema/Benediction gear back in Dalaran. I am insanely proud about having the Polymorph:Turtle on my mage (although I never got to show it off in Wrath). I could polymorph stuff even when no one wanted it just to "accidentally" show people that I had one of the rarest polymorphs. I'm even more proud of my Haunted Memento that I have on my paladin, although that actually seems to be one of those things no one else notices.

And I do look in awe at some people. I thought the first people with Bloodbathed Frostbrood Vanquisher were like the coolest people in the game. Otherwise I usually think people who epeen their mounts by going afk on them somewhere where they can be seen are pretty lame (I'd totally never do that!). Another thing I've actually never done and don't understand when people do, are linking epics. Ok if it's an old school epic like Thunderfury, but epics that you can buy from the auction house or that drop in raids? Everyone will have epics soon, so why brag about something that isn't special in the long run? Well we're all different I suppose.

But in the end we love this game because it offers us a great opportunity to feel special. When my mom asks be how my day was I can say "yeah I saved the world, and also I got some tier that no one else in my guild has yet". She'd be so proud of me (?). We clearly need to, at least to some extent, feel that we're a little more than the other guy. No matter if we like to raid, pvp, collect strange stuff, or just run around aimlessly, we try to be noticeable in some way. Some people aim at being "the annoying guy in the chat", but hey - at least they're special. Everyone will know their name (because it's on their ignore list). I might be completely meaningless irl, but I wield a Shadowmourne (yeah I wish), heck yeah! WoW is a great way to live out the little egocentric we've all got deep inside.

What kind of epeen do you condone and which ones do you dislike?
Ps. This post is only about 87% serious ;)


  1. This is an amazing post. I really think I am going to explore the idea further not just on my wow blog, but my personal blog.

    I have two cultures. Born in Colombia, South America, spending my college years in the US and now having lived more than half of my life here I have both cultures very intermingled. It makes for some interesting contradictions.

    The way I have deal with other's e-peen is not that it does not exist, its more along the lines that my life and in a way my ego about who I am IRL just does not compare. Sure an ant can pick up many times its weight, but it could not pick up a basketball and bounce it around... so sure, you have that awesome mount in a game, you still don't affect my life with it.

    Again, a lot to digest here... EXCELLENT post!

  2. @Logtar
    Thanks! This is one of those subjects I just love to muse about when playing the game, and eventhough I'd love to write endlessly about it I just don't have the means. I mean you could probably write an essay about it. Instead I throw it out there like this and hope that others catch on. If you do write something about it I'd love a link :) Or I'll just check out your blog and hope I catch it.

  3. Janteloven is the criticism from a norwegian living in Denmark long time ago, so it's originally about the danes. As Scandinavian culture is so alike, Janteloven probably describes us all ;)
    (The english wiki tells the story)

  4. @Ironyca
    Oh the danes eh? That doesn't suprise me ;) *ahem*