#Laavugate – was the hate really warranted?

A German lady visited a Finnish private lean-to in May. Social media took its toll.

Charlotte Arnswald lived in a lean-to for little over a month. She told YLE that she had come to Finland to better understand herself and see how she’d fair in the wild on  nature’s terms.

Disclaimer! The photos and the people in them are not related to the story in any way, shape or form. Should you wish to find out the locations of the lean-tos, just Google them. Share them to strangers and go pay them a visit. It might do you some good.

So Charlotte had studied plants and rehearsed how to survive in the wild in her home country of Germany but due to Spring being uncharacteristically late this year, she didn’t have much to eat when it comes to vegetables. So she tried frogspawn and used fish traps. The only foreign food item was rice.

Social media kept stirring for two days

It began as a small sizzle in the bottom by underestimation, judgement and basic complaining in the comment section of the article. This might’ve been simple jealousy, I mean who doesn’t want to spend a month away from all the noise, free as a bird.

Sure, she also received positive feedback but the nasty comments were overwhelming, as they tend to be. In any case, Charlotte’s courage and enthusiasm towards nature had people in awe as well.

Soon, the more extreme comments followed, mostly on you-know-what-site. It’s hard to tell if it was just a group of trolls shrieking nonsense or if someone really wanted to harm Charlotte.

Don’t look for the comments. It’ll just make you sad and angry.

I’d like to give some creative feedback to the members of the press because the real bubble burst after the follow-up article was released. Somewhere on the internet there’s a steady stream of clicks pouring into the media’s pockets with all the Joe-sickpacks Googling this hate-speech.

Why the uproar? #fakenews?

They left out pretty crucial details from the YLE article. Details that might’ve decreased the amount of negative attention Charlotte received.

The story was mostly wonderful and cute and worth covering!

The information was mostly well-covered. For instance, they mentioned that Charlotte had studied the local plants and even considered hunting until she learned you need a permit and it’s off-season.

The drone shots of the forest supported the idea of a strong woman, playing her clarinet, not feeling alone or scared.

This young lady was phenomenal! I respected her efforts and felt that I would share her story as soon as I got back on the computer.

However, what the article failed to mention, was that she was on private land, in a private lean-to and every piece of firewood she used, was authorized by the land owners. You see, Charlotte was their guest. With this piece of vital information lacking, the readers jumped to their own conclusions and used it against her.

It’s perfectly okay to spend several nights on private land and it’s completely fine to make fire, if the land owner allows this. This should’ve been made clear from the get-go.

I’m not getting involved with whether or not it’s the end of the world if someone were to spend a couple nights in a public lean-to. But some of the more remote ones rarely get used and it would be nice to run into someone like Charlotte.

So what was the real crime here? And what does that say about our laws?

Okay, it’s illegal to eat frogspawn. Amphibians are protected and that includes tadpoles and frogspawn. When this regulation is covered in the news, it’s usually mentioned in passing and paralleled with kid’s play.

One of the main things in Finland are every-man’s-rights and hiking/camping etiquette. Neither seems to be familiar to everyone but we’re profoundly proud of both. They’re one of the cornerstones of our tourism and a strong part of our identity.

If we assume one is being violated, it draws an strong emotional response out of us. I admit thinking you’re not allowed to touch frogspawn but I try to evaluate the big picture. Not a whole lot people are willing to do that.

As much as we like to complain about Filing-Finland, some things are super close to our hearts. Especially the little things. Especially things involving nature.

We have a green heart beating in our chests and sometimes we go a little bit too far defending our regulations.

After talking to one such extremists, who wanted to rid even national parks of people, I pumped on the brakes. National parks have a great infrastructure which help preserve the surrounding areas more than any fences ever could.

Sometimes people think in weird ways: even though I’ll never step foot near that lean-to, no one should ever spend any time there, let alone a week or a month! That thing is a decoration!

But again, I call for the courtesy and  encouragement from all us regular hikers!

I saw a lot of outdoor people making fun of Charlotte and saying stupid things like “well if she wanted to be left alone, why did she contact YLE”. Give me a break.

To anyone who came to this conversation with such anger and malice, I challenge you to take a hard look at yourself. Where does it all come from? Maybe you need a week in a lean-to yourself? Don’t forget to check for a forest fire warning!

This young woman deserves admiration and encouragement. She made a bold choice in coming to our country and I hope she returns, preferably with other like-minded people.

Another tip to all you social media warriors: don’t Google your name.

And another disclaimer: I don’t condone hate-speech at all but I don’t want to condemn people the way YLE has done. But it’s all about the clicks, right? I want those who scoffed and underestimated Charlote, to read this blog post. Let people enjoy things and do things you enjoy yourself.

The original article May 26th at 8 PM.


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