As part of an initiative by the Swedish government to improve branding and create "the most democratic twitter feed in the world" the country has opened up their @sweden account to a different Swedish citizen every week. Since beginning the project in December 2011 they have doubled their followers to 20,000.
This week Hanna, a 32 year old lesbian truck-driver, is the citizen at the wheel. (PUN IN YOUR FACE!) Speaking to ABC News Hanna explained,
"I just am doing what I always do, writing about my life. Sometimes I write about politics and social welfare, but not with a true agenda. I mostly just express my own opinions when I see something that bothers me or I find interesting."
To catch you up on what she's been talking about:
Yes, everybody knows that Hanna! And it seems we should probably tweet her our suggestions for the Top 10 Gayest This American Life Episodes:
Hanna will only be tweeting for @Sweden for a week, but fear not, you can continue to follow her @truckerlez account. Others who have tweeted for Sweden's twitter account include a female priest, a sheep farmer and an advertising executive. While the social media experiment is unusual, it appears to be working -- the @sweden account has doubled its followers over the course of five weeks, and Sweden's willingness to let those from "othered" communities represent the face of its nation is both inspiring and effective. Hasan Ramic, another tweeter for @sweden who emigrated from Bosnia in the 1990s, has been openly critical of Swedish government officials while speaking from the country's Twitter account, with no apparent repercussions, except for Sweden's integrity and transparency as a nation being publicly bolstered. VisitSweden's social media manager says that they're trying to be seen as "progressive, open, credible and truthful," and are actively working against their reputation as a homogenous nation of tall blondes.
Sweden's not the only nation that prides itself on its heterogeneity -- America, for instance, has capitalized fairly well on its reputation as a melting pot of different culture and ethnicities. But it's still surprising for many to see a country, especially one trying to draw more visitors and positive attention, to let an out lesbian become the face of its nation. Regardless of what kind of rhetoric we throw around about equality, the politics of who we let represent our population, both within and without our country, tends to be pretty consistent -- people who are white, thin, English-speaking, and heteronormative. Sweden's social media experiment proves that not only is there another way, but it's actually a great idea. Hanna has won fans all over the world, which means Sweden has too. Maybe there's a lesson to be learned here -- about how visiting Sweden is probably awesome, and also about how maybe the best advice comes from the tourism office of a Scandinavian country -- "you have to let go of control and empower the people."