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Net Addiction Gets Finnish Soldiers Out Of Army 612

nerdb0t writes "Reuters is reporting that the Finnish Defense Forces have allowed some men to be excused from military service because of 'Internet Addiction.' The service period is 6 months - but that's too long away from the internet for these guys. Is this a joke? Is this a legitimate illness? Hm..where can I apply for disability..."
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Net Addiction Gets Finnish Soldiers Out Of Army

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  • by SnprBoB86 ( 576143 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @01:44AM (#9876115) Homepage
    apparent b/c i got first post.. i must be addicted to the net or at least slash dot
    • WTF? (Score:5, Funny)

      by saden1 ( 581102 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @01:54AM (#9876170)
      Put them in a treatment program. Don't just let them go back and their computer.
      • Re:WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Aviancer ( 645528 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @02:55AM (#9876436) Homepage Journal
        Some might argue that military service IS a treatment program of sorts...
        • Re:WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Zone-MR ( 631588 ) * <slashdot AT zone-mr DOT net> on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @06:00AM (#9877118) Homepage
          The question is, should this 'addiction' be treated in the first place?

          On one hand I think claiming to be 'internet addicted' to the extent that you cannot cope without the internet is a joke.

          On the other I would consider myself to have a dependancy on the internet which could be classed as a mild addiction - I begin to feel like a part of me is missing when I need to spend a prolonged time away from the Internet.

          I imagine the main reason I am so dependant on the Internet is convenient access to informaion. If I stumble accross anything I don't understand, or something I would like to know more about, I can obtain a wealth of information and endless user opinions after a few google queries.

          When I am at a computer, I almost consider it to be an extension of my brain. Whilst my own brain keeps a record of personal memories and knowledge, the Internet lets me augment my own experiences and knowledge with that of other people.

          Spending most of my life with access to the internet at my fingertips, I have got used to (and to a certain extend dependant on) the ability to instantly recall any phone number someone gave me 12 years ago. Or the ability to consult thousands of experts in any specialised field and receive a response within a few seconds. Or the ability to instantly share my experiences and discoveries with others who may find it interesting/useful. When that access isn't possible, is it that surprising that I feel as if something is missing?

          Is thirst for knowledge really an addiction that should be treated like a mental illness and cured?
          • Re:WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by rofa ( 2358 ) <> on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @08:36AM (#9877772) Homepage
            In one of the local neswpapers is a story about this, it say that the biggest reason is the very different life-rhytm. It's about a marginal group of yong men who havn't had anyone controlling their habits, they haven't been woken up at 6:00 and nobody has ordered them to do anything, they have been living without any limitations. When suddenly all this is true, they can't handle it. Net addiction is not a disease as such, but the other symptoms are, and they vary; panic disturbances, pressure handling problems and other psychological factors. These guys only have online friends and suddenly living in the same room with 10 other farting people is too much for them.

            They go on to say that these people are examined later (1-3 years), and that most of them are rid of the addicion at that point and then they can continue their service. About 80% finish their military service.

            -- [Partly (shamelessly) quoted and freely translated from "Iltalehti" ]
          • Re:WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by be951 ( 772934 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @08:58AM (#9877931)
            Is thirst for knowledge really an addiction that should be treated like a mental illness and cured?
            Do you really think people claiming "internet addiction" are doing research and trying to learn useful knowledge? I would wager that nearly all "internet addicts" spend virtually all their online time in a small set of activities such as: chat, "adult" content, and gambling. There are probably also subsets that are "addicted" to ebay, games (the term "EverCrack" comes to mind), and a few other areas.

            A sibling post describing the issue in more detail makes it sound like "internet addiction" is mainly a euphemism for "lazy, undisciplined and poorly socialized".

  • by BillLeeLee ( 629420 ) < minus herbivore> on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @01:45AM (#9876123)
    "If I can't get my daily dose of slashdot, I'll go crazy and kill some endangered animals" - Finnish soldier
  • Not quite (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @01:47AM (#9876135)
    Actually, they were not excused from military service, they were sent home and told to grow up and return in a few years for another try.
    • Re:Not quite (Score:5, Informative)

      by sopuli ( 459663 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @02:09AM (#9876241)
      Yep, this is standard practice in the Finnish army. If you break down and say you can't take it anymore, for whatever reason, you can get out. But you'll have to come back after a few years (the assumption being that you have grown up a bit).
      • by value_added ( 719364 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:50AM (#9877085)

        Yep, this is standard practice in the Finnish army. If you break down and say you can't take it anymore, for whatever reason, you can get out.

        So, if George Bush had been born elsewhere ...

    • by drooling-dog ( 189103 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @04:33AM (#9876782)
      Actually, they were not excused from military service, they were sent home and told to grow up and return in a few years for another try.

      If my experience is any guide, the affliction doesn't get any better with age.

  • Cure? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by macpell ( 726325 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @01:47AM (#9876137)
    Seems to me six months on duty, away from the Internet, just might be the cure for this terrible illness.
    • Re:Cure? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Penguuu ( 263703 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:53AM (#9877092)
      I can honestly say it is. I was (and still am, in some way) net-nerd.

      But 6 months in coastal infantry was very good change in life, and in my opinion helped me to gain some experiences i wouldn't otherwise had. And there was those leaves, when we went to city with our friends and got drunk. Helped me to get life of my own, outside of computers.

      So, if there is any young finnish people reading this, i would encourage you to stay in the army, and try to enjoy experiences you can't have, when you are playing counter-strike or hanging in irc.
  • apply... (Score:2, Funny)

    by dmitrygr ( 736758 )
    does constantly hitting F5 on slashdot, 24/7 count?
  • eh.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by iamdrscience ( 541136 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @01:51AM (#9876153) Homepage
    About two years ago I spent 2 months as a counselor at a summer camp, most of which time I had no internet access, and when I did have access it was minimal. I know this is a little pathetic, but I really felt like I was being deprived. I mean, I wasn't sick over it or anything, but it was something I genuinely missed and I was really bothered that I couldn't use it the way I was used to. That said, I don't really think that this is a legitimate sickness worthy of being discharged because of, it's really quite managable. The main way I dealt with it was reading a lot. Generally I don't read that often, but that summer I went through a few tens of books.
    • by aralin ( 107264 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @02:08AM (#9876233)
      Man, if you could stay 2 months without net, you have no freakin' idea what you are talking about. No clue! Eight years ago I was supposed to spend two weeks without net with friends at a lake. Your typical summer holidays. I made it one week before hitchhiking over 600 miles back to "civilization". And that was 8 years ago. I know people who lost big bet that they could stay *one day* without cell phone. A "disconnect" is a serious problem for growing segment of population and net addiction is a real thing(tm).
      • by Jeremiah Cornelius ( 137 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @02:40AM (#9876374) Homepage Journal

        We take .75 Million years to move from the open veldt, to skin tents, mud-thatch huts, and finally stucco condos with AC.

        Who are these wiseacres who want to ignore this struggle, and revisit the "great" outdoors? Why don't y'all starve a bear, and stay in here - where the lights are on? There's a Red Bull in the 'fridge!

        • by Anonymous Coward
          Maybe some of us are tired of dealing the supposedly civilised "animals" in the city. You know the ones that look like walking billboard advertisment and try to murder people with their shitty ass driving skills.
    • Re:eh.. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by avij ( 105924 ) *
      A few years ago I was also on a summer camp, I was one of the people looking after the kids that were on that camp. I was perfectly happy for spending some time without internet access, but some of those kids (about age 12) genuinely missed their home PC. I'm used to kids feeling homesick, but back then it was the first time I heard someone miss their computer at home. Oh yes, this happened in Finland. Perhaps some of those children are now those net addicted persons.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @01:52AM (#9876156)
    They don't get pardoned forever. It seems they got 'E' which means 'go home and grow a little'. So they need to come back and do their service 2-3 years later.

    For record you can get 'E' just by requesting it, these guys were forced to 'E' due to addiction =)

    (status of different letters in Finnish Defence Forces:

    A - primary letter given to everyone, capable of active service
    B - Some problem, maybe bad allergy or old injury
    C - No service during peace time
    D - No service (even if it's war time)
    E - Service postponed )
  • by TiggertheMad ( 556308 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @01:53AM (#9876163) Homepage Journal
    Recall that about half the country is above the arctic circle, so cell phnes and computers are great when you can hop a reindeer to visit the next village over. They probably have more net addicts than Korea, since the Internet is an easy to stay in contact with people when it's -20 out.

    They also have one of the highest rates of alchoholisim in Europe, and I wonder how many people get waivers for that each year.

    But really, what self-respecting Army would pass on a soldier because he spent too much time practicing his BFG9000 skills...
    • by ravenlock ( 693538 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @02:05AM (#9876223)
      We use cell phones more than the internet, at least for now, so keeping in touch really isn't the thing internet is used for (cheap broadband is available in the south, the rest will have to pay their asses off on dialup or expensive broadband.)

      The alcoholism isn't a problem for the military, since the drinking occurs on the soldiers' free time.

      The thing about finnish military service is it's mandatory. If you don't want to do the punishment of 13 months of civil service, it's at least 6 months in the army. If you refuse both, you go to jail. Amnesty considers Finland one of the few countries that take prisoners because of their ideology.

      The way to avoid service is to come up with a reason for them not to want you. The most common would probably be mental illness of sorts. There are countless stories about people doing the weirders stuff to convince their superiors they should be dismissed.

      I think that would explain the net addiction. Somebody came up with a new way to avoid doing their time for another two years.
    • by 10Ghz ( 453478 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @02:10AM (#9876244)
      But really, what self-respecting Army would pass on a soldier because he spent too much time practicing his BFG9000 skills...

      They did't. Basically, they sent the rookies back home to their mommies in order to grow up. In few years, they will find themselves back in the army. So, being addicted to the net is not a valid excuse to get them out of the service.

      I was excused from the service back in my day, but that was because I got a severe allergic reaction the moment I reported for duty. It was propably the washing-powder (industrial strength) they use to wash the uniforms. Three days in the service, 30 days in the hospital and I was sent back home.

      Speaking as a Finn.
    • by TopShelf ( 92521 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @09:19AM (#9878080) Homepage Journal
      I work for a Swedish company, in which I've heard the following joke:

      Q: How do you spot an extroverted Finn?

      A: He looks at your shoes...
  • Not excused (Score:3, Informative)

    by saunabad ( 664414 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @01:54AM (#9876168)

    But delayed and told to come back later after couple of years. At least according to the local Finnish media.

    (Totally crazy anyway. This is Finland for heavens sake, not some pansy-ass Sweden ;)

  • Oh hush (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sim000 ( 721371 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @01:59AM (#9876192)
    This is ridiculous. Unfortunately, the story is true. What's ridiculous is that the service doesn't mean 6 months of no net -- it just means you can't get on the net _as much as you might want to_. First, the Finnish army gives you three out of four weekends off, which means you get to go home (=on the net if you just have to get your fix) for the weekend and report back on Sunday evening. Second, most if not all garrisons have computers with Internet-connections that the conscripts can freely use during the evenings. And if you still can't handle it? Growing up is exactly what you need.
    • Re:Oh hush (Score:5, Informative)

      by klmth ( 451037 ) <> on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @02:03AM (#9876209) Homepage Journal
      People drop out of the military for many reasons. Most people can't cope with the sense of authority that the army instills. All of these are sent home to grow up for a couple of years - net addiction is not an excuse, it just means that you're psychologically unfit at the moment.
      • Re:Oh hush (Score:2, Insightful)

        by sim000 ( 721371 )
        That's certainly true. I didn't mean to be "pro-army" in any way -- the army, IMO, it's one of the most useless money-sucking institutions ever invented.

        Modern medicine is so advanced that there are no healthy people anymore

        • Re:Oh hush (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @03:42AM (#9876636)
          It does seem to have less of a point what with NATO and all, but then again, the security of your nation isn't something you want to solely trust to others. Espically if all of Europe took that view and the US became the only NATO member with any military power to speak of. Would you REALLY want to rely on America as the sole source of your secrity if, say, the Norwegians got mad about one too many Viking jokes and decided to invade?

          Ok, ok, I know it's not real likely to happen, but do recall that there was a mand only around 50 years ago that was hell bent on conquering the entirety of Europe, and I seem to recall in 1939 Russia invaded Finland, and Finland won much to the supprise of most of the world. I'm just saying it's not an all bad idea to have your own army.
    • Rediculous or not, fact is that with 2 generations of peace in the area and the big bad Soviet Bear dead Finland is not in need of a large standing army.
      This is no different than in other Western European countries except many of them have scrapped conscription for this reason.
      To have soldiers trained for less than 12-18 months does not give you a very good army to begin with.
      When I was drafted (in The Netherlands) in the early 70's and with the cold war still going on only 3 out of 10 drafted were actua
  • by syousef ( 465911 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @02:01AM (#9876199) Journal
    Sure this does mean I get to sue the arse off my boss if I'm fired for inappropriate use of company resources when I'm caught surfing pr0n at work, right? I mean he's discriminating against my disability! Shame on him!
  • I can identify with these soldiers. I once spent a month at a house with no internet access whatsoever. I had no idea what to do with myself in my spare time. I had my laptop with me and spent hours playing solitaire. I couldn't get my mind off the internet, and what must be happenning in my absence. I tried watching tv but I usually watch tv while browsing /., so it was no help. News papers weren't much better because I couldn't adjust the font size or get the perfect lighting of the computer monitor
    • by Monkelectric ( 546685 ) <> on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @03:23AM (#9876571)
      I think internet addiction is really an extremely low tolerance for being bored.

      I've had the internet since 92 or 93, and before that Compuserve, and before that BBS's, and with each service came an increasing ability to *ALWAYS* be able to find something to entertain myself. If its reading an article, learning a new programming language, a piece of software to play with. That was 5 years ago.

      Now with mp3s, and bit torrent, the entire world of music, film, and television are avaliable online and I have no tolerance for being presented with entertainment a television network or someone else thinks I might want to see. I want to assemble my own entertainment, I watch/read/play what I want to, when I want to, on my schedule.

      After a few years of this, I just have no patience.

  • As a Finnish citizen I am very happy that our army sends these sissies home to grow up and is not trying to adjust the service easier for them. Our army is for self defence (not attacking poor people for some ;-) reason) and we really need good men (and women) to do the job.
    • by marsu_k ( 701360 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @03:02AM (#9876464)
      As a Finnish citizen I cannot understand why these people don't go for "civilian service" (I'm not sure about the correct English term here, but basically it's working for a year for a governmental/communal/nonprofit organisation instead of going to the army), which I personally did. You get the nights off, and you're likely to get a net connection at work as well.

      (Mind you, internet addiction was not my reason for not going to the army - my "work computer" during my service was a glorious Schneider 386SX with W3.11 and no net connection. But during my year I got exceedingly good in Solitaire. ;-)

  • by hadesan ( 664029 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @02:10AM (#9876245)
    Guess they gave the Ruskies a run for their money in WWII. Especially decent considering the odds they were against. shR.html/ []

    However, with this bullshit, you wonder how they would fair now...

    • Once upon a time I had a psychology professor who started talking about how hard it was growing up in a predominantly Finnish neighborhood in, as I recall, Gary, Indiana ( Gary, Indiana, Gary Indiana. . .oh, sorry), because the Finns hated Americans.

      Someone in the class asked him, "If they hate Americans, why did the come here?"

      The answer?

      "Because they hate Russians even more."

    • by Killeri ( 238792 ) * on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @03:22AM (#9876566) Homepage
      The Finnish performance in WW2 was mainly due to four factors. One, Stalin didn't send enough troops to the Finnish front so the Finnish army wasn't completely overrun. Two, the winter '39-'40 was very cold, even by Finnish standards, so the Soviet mechanical advantage was lost. Three, the Finnish army was very good in the use of artillery. Four, defending your homeland gives you some extra boost compared to simply invading some other country. I don't think that the "quality of the soldiers" was that much different.

      However, the recent studies have shown that most young Finnish people would jump to the arms if Finland were invaded, so I don't think this net addiction thing has any effect on that :)

    • It was a little bit more than a run for their money.
      The Finns also had their fair share of heros and one guy who can arguably claim the title of "Best Sniper Ever".
      Granted, there are others, Zaitzev (and Koenig, who uh, lost) and Hathcock (perhaps a tie) that would be in the running, but I honestly don't think they would take first)
      If you look up "hard-core motherfucker" in the dictionary, you should see a picture of Simo Häyhä
      Simo, after he was shot in the face by an exploding bullet (a w
  • Can I get disability and/or workmans comp for this malady?
  • they only need to look back to the 90's (yah i know its hard to remember) when MOST people got their porn from magazines! God the 90s sucked...
  • Bah! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Nicholas Evans ( 731773 ) <> on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @02:18AM (#9876277) Homepage
    You know, if Linus Torvalds can do it (He served in the Finnish army too, remember!) then any computer addict can. Suck it up and get a technical position, solider!
    • Re:Bah! (Score:5, Funny)

      by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @03:41AM (#9876634) Journal
      You know, if Linus Torvalds can do it....then any computer addict can.

      According to legend, he pulled a McGuyver: he built a secret PC out of spare tank, riffle, and field radio parts.

      "Sarge, Why is that young man scooting that grenade around on his desk and clicking the pin like that, staring into a glowing helmet?"
  • by randyest ( 589159 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @02:18AM (#9876278) Homepage
    That's right -- ligitimate!

    Check out the poll [] and submit your thoughts to their hi-tech CGI script, and you'll see for yourself:

    Thank You For Filling Out This Form
    Below is what you submitted to on Wednesday, August 4, 2004 at 02:12:49

    Ligitimate_Mental_Disorder: No

    Wait. I voted "no," so it's not ligitimate, but maybe it's still legitimate. I'm confused.

    Aw, screw it -- I'm going to play some Doom3.
  • by VolatileSamu ( 778800 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @02:21AM (#9876297) Homepage
    ...and it has been happening for few years.

    It's really not just their addiction that excuses them from serving their country.

    I think the main reason is their lack of interest and ofcourse they are in a such a bad shape that it's impossible to manage the armyduties.

    I mean that if you sit in front of your computer for 12 hours a day and then you suddenly have to wear 30-40 kilos backpack and told to march 10 kilometres.
    • Perhaps a crazy idea, but I'll put it forth anyways. I'm sure someone can dispell it if it is totally incorrect.

      If you go in to the military and are a lardass like many people who spend 12 hours a day in front of a coputer (/me raises his hand), you will begin to lose weight. Not really by choice either. I expect that you will probably lose about 20 kilos in the first month if you are in the upper part of the overweight category of the lower part of the obese category.
      Once you lose that weight, if you are
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Boatloads of people are zombified by television and movies, at least these soldiers were (hopefully) doing something interactive online, and possibly learning useful stuff. I'd rather be addicted to something I can learn from, than television full of infomercials and Jerry Springer.
  • by lewko ( 195646 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @02:26AM (#9876319) Homepage
    Meanwhile, further down Slashdot's front page is this [] article about next generation hi-tech combat gear.

    Tell the addicts about this stuff and they will sign up in a flash for the ultra-realistic first-person shooter immersion experience!

  • It can be an addiction - just like anything else - when it starts affecting other aspects of your life in a negative way, be in personal, professional way or otherwise.

    Just because it's related to computers (or perhaps "geeks") doesn't make it any less of a problem that needs to be dealt with.

  • The finnish just need to get a new research program like we have in the US, and these 'E' status soldiers will promptly be made into test subjects for the new internet enabled super suits [].

    then everyone gets to be happy.

  • neat (Score:5, Funny)

    by NanoGator ( 522640 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @02:30AM (#9876333) Homepage Journal
    Slashdot took out a few soldiers. What service can't we deny?
  • They are... (Score:3, Funny)

    by toddhisattva ( 127032 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @02:34AM (#9876349) Homepage
    Well, I guess they are Finnished!
  • Oh come on, we have to serve 2.5 years of compulsory military service here and myself being a net addict survived it. Although it was really painful thinking about all my MUD-mates questing without me, leaving me to fall behind in experience points and levels :(
  • Its true.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by andreyw ( 798182 )
    The internet IS like an addiction. I personally would go nuts without it - my mind just needs to be stimulated with the overabundant torrent of information... It gives us the ability to access anything, anywhere without much ado, and crutch or not, it gets pretty damn addictive - and is something the mind doesn't want to part with...

    Take something as simple as a word dictionary. Are you more likely to page through a 600+ book or quickly pop onto Exactly... We get used to that. And when we get
  • Reasons (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mika_Lindman ( 571372 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @02:56AM (#9876442)
    All finnish men have to do their military service, which is 180, 270 or 360 days. Usually men go to this service after "basic" schools, at the age of 18 or 19. The military service starts either july or the next january. This leaves you time, when you have nothing to do ( if you can't get a job ).

    During this time some ppl get addicted to net. And it's not just the net, it's the hours. Pretty much every net addict has bizarre sleeping pattern. Usually you go on chatting/surfing/playing 15-24hours, and then get some sleep, when you get really really tired. You have no obligations to be awake at some given time.
    One finnish news site said, that the biggest problem was adjusting to regular sleeping pattern, not the actual net addiction.

    The first weeks in the army are ofcourse the worst. You are in a totally new enviroment, you don't know anyone, and you live in a single room with 8-12 other men. Lots of people keep yelling at you and bossing you around, and that makes people very stressed. During those first weeks, pretty much everyone wants to quit.
    When you add sleep disorder to this, you pretty much are done for it. There's no way you can maintain your mental health and motivation.

    I had no problems during my service time, but I know what those sleep disorders from too much computer using can do to you. It's total hell trying to live as a productive member of society, when you simply can't sleep during the nights. Almost screwed up my school because of that, but luckily I'm over it now.

    But it still bugs me that sleeping 7-8 hours a night and spending 9 hours a day of your time to work, it leaves you so very little spare time. Atleast to compared to the situation where you had nothing else than spare time.
    • Re:Reasons (Score:2, Informative)

      by eetu ( 570604 )
      > All finnish men have to do their military service, which is 180, 270 or 360 days.

      Hmm, sounds exactly like the army propaganda, not mentioning the alternatives at all. The civil service lasts for 395 days and there's also the choice of serving around 200 days in prison (which is what I did).

      I agree with the rest of your post, though. It is a total hell trying to live as a productive member of the society when you can't sleep during the nights. Been there, done that.
    • Re:Reasons (Score:5, Insightful)

      by @madeus ( 24818 ) <> on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @07:33AM (#9877444)
      > All finnish men have to do their military service, which is 180, 270 or 360 days.

      Not true.

      They can come to any decent EU country (like the UK) and not do it. We are not still living in the 1900's.

      Finns can tell their government to fuck off, but so many find it's easier 'just to go along' with things and not rock the boat then justify that to themselves later (with some spurious trite reasoning).

      It amazes me that a nation of largely intelligent people fall for the propaganda that national service being useful, and that governments in countries like Finland and Germany still manage to get away with it. In reality it's a barbaric anachronism and in the face of so many other countries that have had it in the past having now phased it out, or having announced plans to end it, people in Finland should really be questioning this rather than going along with the idea out of a sense of tradition. The lack of recognition for conscientious objectors in Finland is something I find particularly morally repugnant (and let's not even get into the sexism debate).

      It would have been phased out by the EU by now, if it hadn't been for the dissent of countries like Germany that are so dependant on it for the success of the state, where it's used to make up for a shortfall of civil service employees (and so to allow the state to get away with not paying real wages) but that's a different matter that has to do with poor, neigh incompetent governance, it that's not a valid excuse for keeping in place a system of forced slave labour.

      The overwhelming chorus of advice from renowned intelligence organisations like Janes continues to be that it's not a way to create any sort of useful military force, and that's it detrimental to overall performance of what should a dedicated and professional organisation made up exclusively of people who want to be there to do what is a very important job.

      My advice to people in Finland would be to just go and live in another EU member state like the UK, where we don't force people to signup to work for the government (and where they don't get to tell you what weekends you can go home and what ones you cant).

      We don't have national service and it's precisely because of that (and because we do the Right Thing (TM) and choose to pay to have a large, competent and professional army rather than trying to scrape one together from kids who don't really want to be there) that we have one of the most powerful armies in the world (in the top 10, after the USA, India, Russia and Korea (north and south)). For such a small country, that's not bad going, and vastly better than the majority of the rest of the world, even with their swelled ranks fluffed with conscripts.

      Given the evidence against it, and the insistence by the intelligence community that it's not only of no value, but can be of negative value it's a wonder people still do it. It all comes back to 'doing what's right' vrs. 'doing what's easiest'. If more people had a backbone it would have been abolished long ago, the army would be stronger, the people would have more freedom and they'd be quite a bit happier.

      With a society that has the kind of outlook they do on issues like this, perhaps it is not surprising that Finland has the highest suicide rate of any western nation.

      Finns, the government are there to serve you, not the other way around. Do yourself and your entire nation a favour and them to get stuffed. National service costs your nation money overall (through lossed taxes, equipment and wages), it doesn't give you a useful fighting force and it is part of an oppressive environment that harms the physiological well being of the nations citizens.
      • Re:Reasons (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jukervin ( 8659 )
        Finland UK
        Land area (km2) 305 000 241 590
        Land boundaries (km) 2 628 360
        Population 5 214 512 60 270 708
        GDP (USD) 142 billion 1 664 billion
        Annual military budget (USD) 1.8 billion 43 billion
        Available manpower 1 200 000 15 000 000

        How do you suppose we could create a paid army to protect a bigger country with long border against Russia with a fraction of the budget? A paid army of 40 000 would cost three times more and
  • Finland.

    Finland, Finland, Finland.
    The country where I want to be,
    Pony trekking or camping,
    Or just watching TV.
    Finland, Finland, Finland,
    It's the country for me.
    Verse: You're so near to Russia,
    So far from Japan.
    Quite a long way from Cairo,
    Lots of miles from Vietnam.

    Chorus: Finland, Finland, Finland.
    The country where I want to be,
    Eating breakfast or dinner,
    Or snack lunch in the hall.
    Finland, Finland, Finland,
    Finland has it all.

    Verse: You're so sadly neglected,
    And often ignored,
    A poor second to Belgium,
  • Heard on the news (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RPoet ( 20693 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @03:08AM (#9876488) Journal
    I just heard a mention of this on the news. Someone was quoted as saying "for people who stay up all night playing computer games and don't have any friends, military service can be quite a shock."

    I'd say such people need that kind of shock more than most.
  • by RedLaggedTeut ( 216304 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @03:09AM (#9876497) Homepage Journal
    "I'm sorry I can't join the Army because I have to play Counterstrike."
  • They get to go home and grow up... Give me a break, more like become more addicted to the net...
    So how does this conversation go?...
    'Ummm, I got a net problem so I can't serve...'
    'Ummm... ok, go home and grow up, come back in two years when you get over it....'
    'Dahhhhh right Louie, search da puddy tat.... Dahhhhhh...'
  • True (Score:2, Interesting)

    by kopteri ( 798118 )
    I saw this same news at our local TV news too (I live in Finland). 6 months is the minimum these days. I did spend my own service during 1998 and I was there for 11 months, but I admit that I had my laptop and GSM-modem with me almost all the time (I was remote working from army).

    You can just imagine how our commanding officer was surprised when he opened the door into our tent and I was there surfing Internet in middle of the forest during my night shift by the fire. Laptop and GSM were powered from gene
  • by kmactane ( 18359 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @03:27AM (#9876580) Homepage

    Does anyone other than me think that having a web site to combat net addiction is a little messed up? "Help, I've got net addiction, I need to spend less time online!" - "Oh, hey, there's this great web site that can help you with that, you want the URL?"

    Isn't that sort of like having your Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in a bar?

  • by carcosa30 ( 235579 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @03:27AM (#9876583)
    I often wonder if the United States is headed for a general conscription.

    Many other democratic countries have it, and arguably it's good for people. I often wonder how my life would have been changed by a term in the military.

    And hey, since we're now fighting an endless war, it seems more likely than ever.
    • And in most of those countries there are people being jailed for refusing because they consider it an infringement of their human rights to be forced into an organisation that can order them to take up arms.

      You'll also find that in most of these countries there is no such thing as "general conscription". It may be so in name, but most countries don't have the resources to operate a military that large, and in most cases only men are included to start with.

      In Norway, for instance, only about 40% of men

  • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @03:35AM (#9876609) Journal

    "But Sir, I know how to slashdot the enemy!"
  • by fuzzybunny ( 112938 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:25AM (#9876983) Homepage Journal
    COWBOY: Tough break for Hand Job. He was all set to get shipped out on a medical.
    JOKER: What was the matter with him?
    COWBOY: He was jerkin' off ten times a day.
    EIGHTBALL: It's no shit. At least ten times a day.
    COWBOY: Last week he was sent down to Da Nang to see the Navy head shrinker, and the crazy fucker starts jerking off in the waiting room. Instant Section Eight. He was just waiting for his papers to clear division.

    So, I guess the "net addiction" excuse isn't bad, comparatively, considering it cost me about 400 bucks in shrink's fees to get out of the Swiss army (like about 30% of their recruits every year, incidentally.)
  • addiction (Score:3, Informative)

    by CAIMLAS ( 41445 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @05:55AM (#9877105) Homepage
    Technically, a person can become addicted to anything.

    There are two kinds of addiction. One is psychological, and the other is physiological. In other words, you can have a direct mental (emotional, whatever) dependence on something, or your body can be dependant on something. Sometimes a psychological addiction can cause physical withdrawl symptoms, too, and just because you're psychologically addicted doesn't mean there isn't a physical side effect/benefit.

    People allow addictions to continue in their lives because they're an escape from the mundane details and unpleasant things about life that they don't like. Caffine, the Internet, sex, routine, alcohol, spending money, being dumb, smoking, singleness - people get addicted to all these things, because they help the person avoid having to think about the real issues of life.
  • Application (Score:4, Funny)

    by Dizzle ( 781717 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @07:42AM (#9877479) Journal
    Hm..where can I apply for disability...

    Why, online of course.
  • The Winter War (Score:3, Informative)

    by Scot Seese ( 137975 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2004 @10:15AM (#9878595)
    Finns take the defense of their tiny country quite seriously! For those of you who may not remember, a quick refresher on one of history's most forgotten wars- The Winter War, 1939-1940.

    Soviet Russia sent 23 divisions (460,000 troops) and 2,000 tanks into Finland in an act of naked agression, seeking little more than land expansion. They were told not to stop until they reached Sweden. They were so sure of victory that one of their divisions had a military band complete with instruments for their victory performance in Helsinki, after which they would install a puppet government.

    Finland, with a whopping population of 3.6 million, managed to field 160,000 troops.

    The final result:
    -The Soviets suffered 400,000 casualties
    -Stalin suffered a humiliating defeat, and was forced to sign the "Peace Agreement" March 13 1940.

    Finland lost 10% of it's land, but survived as a free independent country. The Soviet army was recalled in defeat, with Stalin nervous about developments elsewhere in Europe as Hitler's war machine spun up.

    To this day, even with Perestroika, Glasnost, and the "collapse" of the Soviet Union, the citizens of the tightly culturally interconnected scandanavian countries (Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland) maintain a deep mistrust of Russia and it's motives for -anything-.

    Do NOT mock the Finish army! ;)

Executive ability is deciding quickly and getting somebody else to do the work. -- John G. Pollard