@sweden: Fitting In vs. Standing Out

"Those that choose to fit in should expect to avoid criticism (and be ignored). Those that stand out should expect neither."
~ Seth Godin, Not both

I follow @sweden. I've made no secret of that fact. I admire what they've done, what they're doing and, very probably, what they'll come up with next. Some time back in April I wrote a post for Sally Pewhairangi's Finding Heroes site; Opportunities as seeds, in which I expressed the thought that libraries could benefit from trying a modified version of this social experiment. I've received a few emails, comments and private messages that have all highlighted articles like this one with NYTimes.com, Swedes' Twitter voice: Anyone, saying (blush) almost anything, and others. (It'd take far too long for me to link all the ones that I've received). Everyone has asked the same question: "Would you take your statement back?" I thank you all for your concern and comments. And no, I won't take my statement back all the same, thank you. I stand by it, still.

@sweden has kickstarted fascinating conversations about breastfeeding, sexuality, maintaining long distance relationships, bad parenting vs. being a bad parent, politics and more. They were also responsible for inspiring other nations to start the same kind of initiative. So far they've had well-educated and/or well-spoken, interesting and engaging people. (Yes, including the one who listed masturbation as one of his favourite activities). I do not, for a second, believe that every Swedish citizen is that way. We aren't here in NZ. Why would it be any different any where else? @sweden is the voice of its people, however and wherever they are, in all their glory and, as we all know, sometimes people are ignorant, sometimes they're even stupid and, however well-intentioned, sometimes they're just plain dumb. I don't know which Sonja is. Something like this - a person at the helm with ideas and opinions that would hugely (and in this case understably) upset people - was bound to happen sooner or later. It had to. Do I agree with Sonja's comments? No, I do not. Neither do I believe it is the PR embarassment people are calling it. @sweden had the choice to fit in and be like any other nation/brand on Twitter who pushes out carefully crafted messages that are much of a muchness. Or they could stand out. It's obvious what they chose to do. As such, it means they're going to be under constant scrutiny, and they're going to draw intense criticism. Some might call it failure. Unfollow, then. I like that @sweden will never be wallflowers.

Smart people work in libraries. That's why I know we're capable of managing a modified version of this. Minus ethnic comments and mentions of masturbation, I'm sure.

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