Wednesday, August 09, 2006

I spent the weekend in the Estonian countryside. Firstly on the islands of Muhu and Saaremaa and then in the family summer house of some friends on the mainland.

During the inevitable saun party I start to chat with the rest of the family (even the youngest speaks English that is more than respectable for a seven year old).

The teenager of the family, despite an unhealthy obsession with the thriller film genre, turns out to have a nicely subversive sense of humour. We discuss the extraordinary pace of technological change in Estonia. I remark that I was in the first generation to grow up with colour television.

We, the post baby boomer generation seem to have struggled a little with our identity. "Generation X" grew up in the 1970s and 1980s and did not see the dramatic party of the 1960s- only the hangover from that party. However, I ask this rather poised young man what he thinks defines his generation. Immediately he responds that growing up with the internet has been part of their self definition. He points out that the use of the internet amongst Estonian teenagers is essentially universal. He says that its is a specifically Estonian way of use, to the point that he rejects the label the ""ers.

"Oh no!- we are the generation".

I wonder what kind of country this generation will build?

I have just read in one of the local newspapers that a world survey collating different surveys of economic, press, and political freedom has just rated Estonia as the freest country in the world. I am not surprised, but I am impressed; it is only 15 years since Estonia was occupied by one of the least free political systems that has ever been used by humans against each other, and whose poisonous legacy continues to paralyze many of her neighbours.

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