The Stalking Finn

We have several words for stalker in Finnish. They all have slightly different connotations, mainly varying in terms of the severity of the stalking. Vaanija and ahdistelija are the peeping Toms of this world, the creeps. But kyttääjä is someone who is excessively interested in other people’s comings and goings and while it may not be exactly a positive thing, it is, however, accepted.

Kyttääjä is the person in your apartment building who keeps tabs on your schedule. They’re the ones who gaze through the peephole and ooze contempt through the door when you wobble home drunk. They’ll turn off the lights in their flat to disapprovingly stare at the debauchery taking place in the opposite building.

Can you feel my disapproval?

Feel my eyes. Feel  my disapproval.

Kyttääjäs derive their pleasure not from seeing you per se, but from the act of disapproving. They manage to derive some sort of pleasure from the negative.

They may not be the best neighbours – usually they are the worst – but they’re often considered more sad than malevolent. They’re people who don’t have much else to do. They stay at home and observe the life others lead, in solitude.

While Finland is really not the serious, lonely place it’s sometimes made out to be, the sad fact of life is that a lot of people are lonely without any means of communicating with people. Perhaps that’s why we as a society don’t frown upon kyttääjäs. This is also why we don’t really need CCTV.

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