Toomas Hõbemägi, BBN 21.07.2015
Marek Reinaas, creative director of an advertising agency, writes in Äripäev that, unlike in earlier decades, Estonia is failing to find the next big narrative
The following are abstracts from his article.
“People like to label different generations. Usually, it is done retroactively because no-one wants to belong to a “hopeless” generation or generation of losers.
An example is Generation X that grew up with the music of Nirvana and was a generation characterised by endless complaining, misery and problems. These people were living behind closed doors, had long hair, hated their parents – in short, they were lost for the society.
1990s – ESCAPE FROM THE PAST
The start of 1990s was anything but lost for Estonia. We were privatising state assets, introduced our out currency, built up a new taxation system, bought weapons for the army, etc.
Mart Laar, the twice ex-PM, has said later that no-one at the country’s top knew exactly where the country was going or what was the objective.
He said that the main driving power was the need to escape from our past and that everybody knew in what kind of a country they wanted to live.
One success factor was that Estonians were doing things differently than they were advised by consultants and international organisations.
We did our things differently and that this turned out to be a very successful strategy for such a small country as Estonia.
In short, Estonia of 1990s was a country of winners because we were able to build up our own country and even were asked for our advise by other similar countries.
At that time there were two big goals – joining the EU and NATO.
2000s – A COOL PLACE TO BE
2000s were a different decade for Estonia. Some have called it a digital decade.
We had our Tiger Leap and boosted Internet capacity. State handed people their digital ID cards and the government switched from paper to databits. Tax returns became electronic and people became more aware of cyberthreats.
In the hindsight, the whole success of e-Estonia was that we had courage to think and act differently.
We were building high-speed data networks, introduced digital signatures. Our banking went online and even our pensions were transferred to our bank accounts electronically.
Estonia in 2000s was a very cool place and we were again asked by others to give advice on how to get there.
It was also the time when Estonia started to be associated with Skype, TransferWise and other startups.
2010s - RUNNING OUT OF FUEL
2010 was the first time that it became clear that Estonia is running out of fuel. Our Prime Minister says that Estonia does not need a big narrative.
Why is it that we don’t want to do things differently any more? Instead of blazing new trails, we have become a country of copycats, doing what others have done.
We accept refugees when told to do so, we finance Greek loans when asked to help.
The key question for the people is now whether the litre of petrol in the service station costs 5 cents more or less.
In short, we hate and fear everything that moves. We would better close our borders and throw away the key, to be safe. Large numbers have already emigrated and are unlikely to return.
Those who stay prefer to play the Estonian roulette – drink up and then climb behind the wheel or go swimming.
I am afraid that future generations will label this decade a lost one. I would not like to have lived as part of the lost generation.
The good news is that we still have about five years left and that not everything is yet lost.
Now is the time to start doing things that are really important. Hopefully, we no longer have to follow others’ lead, but can decide ourselves how far we will go. After all, we know how to do things our way.
So, regardless of whether we are optimists or pessimists and whether half of the lost decade is gone or half is yet ahead, let’s hope that our generation is not summed up by the famous saying „Same s***, different angle“.
Estonia’s lost decade – opinion