Sweden - the worlds most democratic twitter account dissolves into pure anarchy.

WELCOME TO SWEDEN where we don't have a bikini team that randomly skydives into your fishing trips with cases of beer, where we don't drive yellow and blue scooters singing about amazing diets. In advertising "Swedish" is pretty much a mishmash of all germanic countries, including of course Switzerland. Even the Italian speaking parts. They sound so alike! We all have chocolate, skiing and cable cars, right?

So it really is no wonder that Sweden decided to market itself on twitter, by allowing a 'random' Swede take over the twitter account @Sweden for a week, to represent but one of the millions of very different people who live here. I say "random" in quote-marks like that as practically every person who has run the account so far has been someone that I follow on twitter. Look, I know the country is small, but that is quite the coincidence. I shall teach you a Swedish word that may explain this phenomena: Ankdamm. Duck pond. The weird thing where everyone knows everyone in certain circles here. Sweden actually choose who gets to tweet as Sweden, by emailing the person and asking them if they would like to.

The twitter experiment could either be carefully selected tweets representing Sweden, and thus not truly representing the many voices here, or an unmoderated hands-off approach .... and today the world finally discovered that the democratic Sweden account is pure anarchy. Tweeter @hejsonja, a 27 year old mother of two from Northern Sweden (specifically Lapland) armed with a twisted sense of humor took over the account this week and began cracking jokes that balanced firmly on the edge of offensive all day, and sometimes fell off it.

She talks about her kids:

She takes note of the Polar Bröd advertising campaign which tends to include a stuffed reindeer at the point of sale (ie; grocery store).

She shares some images from her computer, and names her Freddie Mercury collage "hungry gay with aids":

She uses the term "dolphin rapists" and Godwinned herself early (Hitler is some sort of running SEO joke on her blog by the way.):

.....and then she hit upon the idea of using the Sweden account to do a Henry Blodget, as in popping the Q "why do people hate jews?", but only to try and get enlightened, mind you. It's not quite Gwyneth Palthrow's "N**ggas in Paris" tweet, but clearly her need to "research" this without looking it up comes from the same type of sheltered privilege.

When she writes "fuzz" she means "fuss" and not the police - being able to string 140 correctly spelled chars together for the Sweden account is clearly not a requirement for the gig.

At this point I have to teach you another Swedish word, and it is: SKÄMSKUDDE. The skämskudde is the "shame pillow" one hides behind when watching someone else make a total and utter ass out of themselves, either through pure and unlimited naiveness better known as ignorance, or through the bone-headed belief they're onto something. It's usually a pillow because we spend most of the Eurovision song contest behind our sofa-pillows when famous authors start song-talking random love poetry to techno and similar stunts. We only dare look when we win (luckily that's pretty often - neener!). I hid behind my skämskudde for the following hole dug so much deeper.

No. She ain't no Sarah Silverman with her jokes....

Failing to understand what "ethnicity" is to "religion" she soldiers on. Note: In Swedish a naive person is "blue-eyed" which Sonja also is. How fitting!

At this point I'm blacking out from the inability to breathe behind my skämskudde. And so the avalanche of links now making blonde Swedish women famous for something other than willingness to have a lot of sex takes over the web: Gawker: Sweden’s Democratic Twitter Experiment Implodes Before Our Eyes, New Statesman Sweden's official twitter account just got freaky, Mashable: the Sweden twitter experiment goes painfully awry , Adfreak Sweden hands its twitter account to citizens and things get weird etc etc.

WSJ even spoke to the organizers and reports that "Sweden stands by the tweets despite the controversy". Like the CEO of Deep Focus Ian Schafer so aptly points out, "the Oil Spill created awareness for BP".

Anna Dahlström called it way back in December 2011 Curators of Sweden: Social media gone wrong: "The idea behind the account hasn’t even hit home to the current and first curator of Sweden."

The dangers of pure uncensored Swedish tweets by "random" Swedes is of course that it will show you a slice of the real Sweden - and not everything here is pretty in the land of the midnight fun er.. sun. No matter what you may think of her tweeted questions or how they were phrased, Sonja just revealed a big slice of the "blue eyedness" that lives in the Swedish psyche. Welcome to Sweden, where nine million people have been gazing at their navel-fuzz (see what I did there?) so long they failed to notice the Jewish population living alongside them since medieval times.

Yes, that's it.

For extra credit, please do enjoy the often hilarious comics that truly explain the differences between the many nordic countries "Scandinavia and the world" where Swedish ladies are described as the total opposite of Swedish men....
See also Welcome to Sweden where nazi Bimbo-bloggers rule and advertisers like Interflora support them - ankdamm points - the blogger calling this out later tweeted for the account of Sweden on twitter! Only about five people actually live here, the rest of the population is polar bears.
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Dabitch's picture

Update - Sonja would like to call today her "Nürnberg experience" (a reference to the Nuremberg Trials - again the lady can not write proper English). Miss Silverman need not worry that she'll be toppled from her throne, but I'm sure Sonja will get a reality TV show offer in ...3....2.....

AnonymousCoward's picture

Why write the name of the town in "proper English" when you can write it properly in German (i.e. its actual name)?

kamari's picture

Because we tend to speak one language at a time? For example, an Englishman says he visits Munchen, but a German would say that Ein Engländer besucht München.

kidsleepy's picture

If it were a Nuremberg experience, she would have been thrown in jail.

kidsleepy's picture

Here's something else directed to the "no such thing as bad publicity" or the "i thought we were allowed freedom of speech" crowd. First off: There is such a thing as bad publicity. Look around adland and you'll find examples in social media where clients had to apologize for their bad publicity, inadvertent or otherwise.

Secondly, freedom of speech doesn't mean freedom from criticism. She's lucky she was even heard. Despite what many Europeans may think opinions like that in the U.S.A. would either be shouted out completely, or they wouldn't get the time of day to begin with.

In sweden apparently they are made representatives of the country. WITHOUT repercussions or apologies form said country.

And that's the thing her defenders seem to be forgetting. Her opinions may be her own but she is REPRESENTING SWEDEN in this case. IMO, Sweden should apologize for her behavior. It would be more heartfelt than if she did.

But instead we'll hide behind ignorance or the old freedom of speech or 'it's just a joke.' No, it isn't a joke. A lot of Jews and Poles and Hungarians and Sweden's neighboring countrymen in Norway and Denmark died. It isn't funny. And the country of Sweden should realize she is damaging to their reputation and do something about it, rather than ignore it.

The other thing about pleading ignorance-- there's something called google. And wikipedia. If you don't know something about someone's faith, and you want to know something about it, then research it.

End Rant.

Kille's picture

Hey Kidsleepy,

I think that there are ways to understand her tweets that would spare you from getting upset. I mean, I can understand that her questions could be offensive, but only of you don't get the point. Which is: there is no way to separate people, to distinguish them (us) from one another. We are all human, regardless of race, religion, culture (including circumcision), what have you. This is her point. No need to apologize for such a conclusion, right.

I would also like to suggest that (had those truly been questions and not just rhetorical ones) dialogue is better than googling. Asking questions and getting responses from others is actually a way of performing research. But you know that.

Take care.

Dabitch's picture


Now Stephen Colbert wants in on this, he has long admired Sweden (or does he just love us because were so fun to make fun of? I'm never quite sure...) and now he wants to be the first non-Swede to run the Sweden account. He does after all know a lot about Sweden.

Then there are the folks who belong to the "there is no such thing as bad PR" school of thought. Mashable : "Sweden was right" and Promodia "The @Sweden Account Is Far From A Failure – It’s Marketing Gold" are two examples.

As Daljit says, perhaps it will in fact benefit from "the Borat effect". Like a successful troll?

Swedish trivia: In Sweden there is a town called Trollhättan. This may or may not explain everything.

Dabitch's picture

The @Sweden debacle on twitter got a lot of attention. A few came to her defense explaining it was all a joke/she didn't mean no harm (examples collected in this storify) while others were asking her to apologize. One of the people who asked for an apology was none other than Michael Hopper ‏@mhopp7 of Al Jazeera.

This apology had to wait because OMG MESSY KIDS ROOM. We can't have that. It's against the law here. If Denmark finds out we have lego all over the floor, they invade again. True story.

Dabitch's picture

This just happened.

For the record "owned" in Swedish is "ägd". This is not a good example of ägd.

Ms. Intention's picture

Well, damn!

Dabitch's picture

Here's a few people who liked Swedens tweets coming out with support for @sweden (translated from Swedish).

AnonymousBastard's picture

I'm having a hard time deciding what this is. At times, I kind of sense irony but at other times she just seems so stupid. Then I see that irony does not exists in her writings, it's pure stupidity instead of irony.

She is probably a quite smart person. Writes good English too.

Also she is pretty.

Troll or geni?

Sport's picture

So the representative of Sweden this week has a level of education that really should make the entire country hand their collective heads in shame. How does one grow up to be a 27 year old mother of two and so ignorant in the second largest city of Sweden? That's quite a feat with keeping the naive.

Andreas-Udd's picture

Those who might wonder if she is trolling or naive, I present to you her career thus far.

Hej Sonja has a blog at News24 with the title "for those of you who are tired of blogs about fashion, decorating, or having cancer"

You can also listen in to her radio chronicle from September last year, see Sonja has a weekly show on Swedish tax financed state controlled radio Swedens Radio P3, where she comments on the news once a week. A bit like Andy Rooney but more annoying.

When describing her small town where she grew up before she moved to Gothenburg on Sweden radio she said this:

"Last I heard, faggots and jews rule the world. And last I looked, there are none of them where I come from."

She's not naive. This is her style. These are her jokes. This is her brand. This is her suggestion to avoid the de-population of Northern Sweden.

This isn't the only time she tells this joke, see her answers to these questions.

I think you should decorate and build a haven for gays, a haven for Jews, and a heaven for Masons little scattered in Västerbotten. I imagine Saxnäs, Klimpfjäll and a village outside of Wilhelmina. Many people believe that money is power, but it's gays, Jews and Freemasons which is power.

Dabitch pointed to Nazi-Bimbo Blogger Kissie, and they have a lot in common. Being obnoxious to gain fame is but one trait, and a common career path in this day and age.

Andreas-Udd's picture

Her nickname is Sonja "Hitler" Abrahamsson on her own about page. Or was. See cached version.

Dabitch's picture

Why Did Sweden Hand Its National Twitter Account Over To A Troll?
(some of the phrasing here feels very familiar.... )

The Twede of the week is a woman named Sonja Abrahamsson, a 27-year-old mother. Her offensive tweets have included a Henry Blodget-worthy digression on “what’s the fuzz with Jews?,” the claim that “before WWII Hitler was one of the most beautiful names in the whole wide world,” a photo of Freddy Mercury with strawberries captioned “hungry gay with aids,” a video on “breastfolding,” the need to get some eggs so she wouldn’t “starve like an African child,” that her life might be easier if she “had downs syndrome,” and the suggestion “that Happy Feet is probably the worst movie ever.” In other words, Sonja is a troll. For those who don’t speak  Internet lingo, a troll is a person who posts deliberately provocative messages “with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument.” Sonja has very effectively trolled Twitter and the international media.

My guess is: Because most Swedes actually think that is funny, "ironic" and so delightfully provocative, so why not? It does represent a large chunk of Sweden. She has a radio show. She has a popular blog. Her jokes and style of offendi-gags do not exist in a vacuum.

Andreas-Udd's picture

Lets not forget her "Hej Hej" neck tattoo. She shows it off here in her video "I want to change my Name to Hitler. New Hitler."

Andreas-Udd's picture

And her tattoo. Her logo at the end of the video is a spoof of the "New Moderaterna" logo.

@collentine's picture

The brand Sweden is ok. With the temporarity of the account holders the individuals thoughts play less importance. If you have a basket of eggs you might find a bad one in there and people understand this.

As long as it's not a reccurring event with extremely bad representatives I'd say @sweden only gained from this amplified focus on what they are doing. Brand is fine and account will probably increase with a few thousand followers due to the news.

kidsleepy's picture

Let's see, am I gonna remember what Johannes, the middle management banker said?

Or am I gonna remember what the racist troll said about my dick, and Jews in general?

Troll wins.

Sweden loses.

Dabitch's picture

We say "Nürnberg" in Swedish too, mate. In English we say "Gothenburg" not "Göteborg" so stating "I had coffee in Göteborg" is a bit off. In Swedish we also say "Helsingfors" not "Helsinki", "München" not "Munich" etc. If she had said "I had a great time skiing in Österrike" that would have looked equally odd. My point about her poor English still stands and is also illustrated by her spelling "know" as "now" (which could have been a typo), and "German" instead of "Nazi Germany" (In English one also tends to separate the country from the era but it's really the letter Y I was looking for).

I find it interesting that you'd rather get annoyed by me pointing out the mixed languages, than with Sonja comparing her twitter experience to a Nazi military tribunal.

Vas's picture

I've read all her tweets on @Sweden and all her blog entries for 2012, 99.9% of it has nothing to do with Jews, the tweets about Jews at worst, ignorant, from a woman who admittedly has never been "south of Sweden"..if you want to know what life is like for a 20 something woman, working class, single mother, joint custody of 2 kids, living in a small town, pop 22,000, in Sweden, her tweets and blog paint the picture..

AnonymousCowardTheThird's picture

Sonja lives outside of Gothenburg. The population count is quite a bit higher there. She also works for Swedish state radio. As a host/journalist.

Dabitch's picture

Yes, as a "krönikör" which isn't a journalist of the reporter style, but rather someone who writes slice of life-columns & musings. She hosts a radio show too. This propelled her personal brand quite far out into the world.

And The Sweden account won a Cyber Lion Grand Prix this year too.

Jurors were also asked whether the controversy related to the anti-Semitic remarks of @Sweden campaign contributor Sonja Abrahamsson affected their decision. They took it into consideration, but "one of the things we respected about the campaign was the fact that they didn't censor or remove that blogger," said Mr. Tait. "It really says something about the country of Sweden, that it's prepared to say, 'There are people with extremist views that perhaps we don't all share.' It was very grown up about that and allowing people to have that conversation out in the open was one of the facets of that behavior -- the fact that they did that -- it's not going to make many more people want to go to Sweden, [but] at the same time it does show that they're passionate about freedom of speech and there's room for everyone in the country. The controversy was noted and discussed but at the end of the day, we were ok with it, even though we don't necessarily condone those kind of comments."

Skämskudde's picture

SKÄMSKUDDE this is the best word ever invented.