Published July 19, 2018
If there’s one topic that is always red hot amongst Icelanders, especially on social media, it’s tourism and its inevitable decline. Public broadcasting service RÚV reported that, in the wake of a forecast that there would soon be slightly fewer tourists to Iceland than last year, Icelandair’s stock dropped by about 25% in value, losing around 15 billion ISK. This, of course, set off a series of speculations across Facebook as to what Iceland could cash in on when the industry crashes. Bitcoin? Exporting electricity? Maybe good ol’ fashioned fish again? It remains to be seen.
If there is one topic of conversation you can always initiate with an Icelander, it’s the weather. As you’ve probably heard, Iceland has been having the worst summer in 100 years. Naturally, Icelanders have neatly divided into two camps: those still stuck on this island and crying about the cold and rain, and those currently vacationing in sunnier climes, posting brag statuses and screenshots of their weather forecast apps. If you belong to the latter camp, stop it. You’re not cute or funny.
One story that flew under our radar was that Minister of Health Svandís Svavarsdóttir blocked journalist and social critic Illugi Jökullsson on Facebook. This raised all kinds of social media commentary regarding whether or not a politician can block someone on social media. Apparently they can, and Svandís has contended that she got tired of Illugi tagging her repeatedly in posts and comments, most likely due to the ongoing labour dispute with midwives. Illugi, while initially outraged, appears to have accepted the matter.
On a related note, that particular dispute is reaching a fever pitch, as 12 midwives in Reykjavík walked off the job, in addition to several more out in the countryside. The matter is particularly frustrating, as not only have midwives’ wages been flat for years now, but several CEOs of government-run agencies have recently received fat bonuses, yet Minister of Finance Bjarni Benediktsson contends there’s simply no more money to give the midwives. The dispute is not likely to end anytime soon.
Finally, the story of the Norwegian cat who stowed away to Iceland has ended on a happy note. As reported, the cat wandered into a shipping container that was being loaded up in Norway and bound for Iceland. Miraculously, the cat survived the journey, and after some initial care and cleaning, was promptly put on a plane back home. In the intervening time, his name was changed; while initially called Pus, it was changed to the ultra-Icelandic Snorri. The cat was not available for comment and it is unknown if the animal agreed to the change.