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So, the Person Running @Sweden This Week Has Gone off the Rails

In case any of you have forgotten, the official Twitter account for the nation of Sweden moves from person to person each week. This week, we’ve been treated to the musings of “Sonja,” who posed the above question to the world. As you can imagine, it doesn’t get much better. Over the course of about an hour, Sonja thinks out loud about issues of race, religion, antisemitism, and the horrific catastrophe of the Holocaust. These, by any measure, are worthy and interesting questions to ask. The only trouble is that she does it with all the grace and tact of a sledgehammer.

By and large, the Internet has been pretty kind to Sonja. A few have asked for an apology, and accused her of behaving recklessly with a nation’s online mouthpiece. Many have taken this as an opportunity to try and educate her about the history of racism, though we’ll have to wait and see what she learns.

Sonja, who is now 27, describes herself this way on the Curators of Sweden website:

When I was 19 years old I took my stuff (including my boyfriend) and moved to Gothenburg. Then I got pregnant two times in a row. Now I’m a single and low educated mother, but at least I don’t do drugs and prostitution. Instead I have a blog and I write things, and I also talk on national radio from time to time. I dont know what I want to do in the furure. Thinking about the future is not my speciality, apparently. But I’m excited to know if we all die the 21st of December.

What’s especially interesting about this little online melodrama isn’t that a public (even temporarily public) figure put her foot in her mouth. From the beginning the Curators of Sweden, the group which operates the project, intended @Sweden to introduce the many and varied denizens of their country to the world. As the New York Times reports, it’s been an interesting ride and has already had some embarrassing moments along the way. In some ways, this unsettling episode and the fact that it is still online validates the project’s goal; we’re definitely seeing a unique point of view.

My take on all this is that in the case of Sonja, the world meets an at best horrifically naive — at worst, wilfully ignorant and offensive — young woman who, by her own description, grew up in an isolated community. This is probably an aspect of their country that Sweden would prefer we not see, nor would any country with a public Twitter feed. More astonishing than Sonja’s Tweets is that fact that Sweden is letting us see these faces of the country, warts and all.

(@Sweden via Mashable)

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