Like building a piece of furniture from IKEA without looking at the instructions, Sweden’s decision to turn over its official Twitter account to citizens could’ve been an unmitigated disaster.
Then a quirky blonde named Sonja Abrahamsson took control of the Twitter feed last week, and even for a country known for its eccentricity and progressiveness, the account got a bit too Swedish.
The 27-year-old’s oddball humor and kooky perspectives didn’t translate for some. (For starters, she said Hitler’s name was “beautiful” prior to World War II and somehow associated it with dolphin rapists.)
CNN labeled her a “Bieber-hating mother” (she denied that), comedian Stephen Colbert called her tweets “enthralling,” and she caught flak from many Twitter users for her bizarre jokes and stream-of-consciousness tweets.
“Whats the fuzz with jews,” she posted on June 12, sparking a flurry of controversy.
“You can’t even see if a person is a jew, unless you see their penises, and even if you do, you can’t be sure!?”
In an email interview with the Daily Dot, Abrahamsson confirmed what we believed all along: No, she’s not anti-Semitic, as some news organizations claimed. And yes, she had a lot of fun controlling @Sweden.
“I wanted to know what a Jew is,” Abrahamsson reiterated. “I couldn’t grasp if it was a religion or just a way of living, or even that.”
Abrahamsson revealed that she grew up in a very small Swedish village of Latikberg, where only around 50 people reside—zero of them Jewish. She learned about Judaism in school, but the only aspect she knew was textbook-based and about the lives of Jews during World War II. The mother of two now resides in Gothenburg, where, as in other Nordic countries, the Jewish population is small.
While Abrahamsson admitted she may have been a bit naive with her tweets, she apologized to those offended and clarified that she was seeking honest feedback.
“At first, I questioned myself, what if I am anti-semitic without knowing it? I strongly believe you can be anti things you don’t know much about. Many people are. But I can’t say I recognize any anti-Jew feelings inside of me.”
While the timing of Abrahamsson’s posts spoiled a front-page report in The New York Times, the @Sweden organizers stood behind her throughout the ordeal. After all, the only rule the government-backed Curators of Sweden provided her was to not break the law, which Abrahamsson clearly didn’t do. It’s a true social experiment—for better or worse.
“It’s very important for us to let everyone take a unique viewpoint,” Tommy Sollén, an official with VisitSweden, told the Wall Street Journal. “Every one of our curators is there with a different perspective.”
“I love my followers, they are the champions,” she wrote. “I got some letters from Jews all over the world, but they were just answering my questions and told me its good to ask things.”
Although she’s done with her one-week term with @Sweden (and replaced by a new Swede who’s as interesting as a basic V-neck from H&M), Abrahamsson writes a weekly column for Nyheter24, a Swedish-based news website.
More importantly, she continues to confuse and entertain with weirdly personable tweets from her personal account, @hejsonja, which has seen a steep increase in followers, though many of those users don’t speak or read Swedish, she discovered.
“I’m afraid my swedish followers will get tired of all the english and leave me with rage written upon their facial expressions,” she joked to us.
Maybe without the world scrupulously judging every tweet she sends, Abrahamsson can finally figure out what the fuzz is with Jews.
Photo via Sonja Abrahamsson