For such a long time we’ve been told that democracy is government of the people, by the people and for the people. And it wasn’t just Abraham Lincoln who said it, though it could be argued that he said it best. But democracy in the hands of the people can be scary and perhaps downright unacceptable for the other people in the equation. In Sweden they decided to try out this definition of democracy, not with the task of governing but with the @Sweden Twitter account – which is arguably not that different from some types of governing anyway. Each week the @Sweden Twitter account is entrusted to a different Swedish citizen who Tweets whatever his or her heart desires. Along the way the age, race, religious affiliation and gender of each @Sweden Tweeter has varied.
Once the Tweeting began however, all was not so democratic. There were complaints that whoever held the @Sweden title in any given week, were actually Tweeting about what was on their minds rather than running it through some sort of sanitizing, public-relations machine. Brutally honest Tweets on the topics of Muslims, Jews, Hitler and moose hunting caused much bristling in the courts of public opinion. So were the Tweets about sex. Maybe this unfiltered democracy wasn’t such a good idea, some speculated. As it turns out, the idea of citizen participation in the Tweetworld has caught on with people in New Zealand, the Netherlands and other places. But so far no actual government has chosen to go completely democratic with their Twitter account. Meanwhile, once comedian Stephen Colbert learned of the @Sweden Twitter account, he launched a campaign to get himself on the list of honored Tweeters. But alas, only Swedish comedians are eligible – and the Swedish people tend to take themselves rather seriously.