Macedonia: Twitter Hashtag for Prime Minister – #Ж

The Macedonian Twitter community is using the hashtag #Ж (uppercase of the Cyrillic letter romanized as Zh or Ž) as the shortcut symbol referring to the Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski.

The influential Twitter user Necovski explained [mk] how this came about on his blog Aerodromski son (Aerodrom Dream). It all started with the opening of the PM's official Twitter profile. A news item [mk] about it in the Nova Makedonija daily contained an error, stating that the account would be Жгруевскиникола (Zhgruevskinikola), “which stuck as a plank in the eye” of the Twitterers (idiom based on a Bible verse from Matthew 7:3):

It is common knowledge among Twitter users, but we will explain that here too, that the nickname cannot be in Cyrillic – it must be in Latin and the character @ goes in front of it. Now anyone who has written at least two documents in their lives knows that experienced users use Macedonian, or English or American or whatever [Multilanguage Support], while only the beginners use obsolete customized fonts. Apparently the reporter, or the Journalist, wrote the article with combination of old fonts. The technical person in the newsroom used [some automatic tool to convert the whole text into appropriate Cyrillic version, which also converted the parts which should have remained in Latin] resulting in Жгруевскиникола, causing an uproar. The daily subsequently corrected the article's online version into the appropriate @GruevskiNikola, which counts as yet another victory of the critical eye of the Twitter community.

The Twitterers, as usual, adopted the hashtag #Ж as a trophy of this victory. (You create a hashtag by putting the prefix # to a certain word, making it easier to discuss and search about that topic within Twitter.) Therefore, almost all tweets related to the work of the Government or personally about some statement by the PM fall under the #Ж hashtag…

For instance, VidanaDesign and Stariot used the hashtag to discuss [mk] the scandal when a photoreporter of the Fokus daily revealed that the Members of Parliament from the ruling party received handwritten notes by the PM with instructions on what to ask him during an official Q&A session on the Cabinet's accountability (pictured note to Ilija Dimovski, MP).

A screenshot of a part of a conversation on whether a typo from PM's note will join the "hashtag alphabet"

The content of the PM's official Twitter profile mostly consists of announcements in Macedonian, written in third person (e.g., “Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski will make a speech at the meeting organized by Konrad Adenauer Foundation,” and first-person posts in English automatically generated through his Facebook profile (“I posted 13 photos on Facebook in the album…”). The obvious lack of personal touch and lack of care for the format of the medium, as the tweets are just truncated article titles, has not contributed to the regard for this profile. In addition, “the PM” – or, to be more precise, the persons administering his profile – have never used “his” hashtag.

Examples of two basic kinds of tweets by the Macedonian PM.

Vlatko Vasilj, who has 1,086 followers, as opposed to the PM's 733, wrote [mk]:

This Twitter thing will make sense as long as I have more followers than #Zh!! :)

Another invocation of the hashtag involved the recent action of using plastic bottles to make a Christmas tree. ArsovaM commented [mk]:

If our fir tree gets good ratings, #Zh could say the project was part of the [Skopje 2014 plan]

Necovski wrote an explanatory post [mk] quoted above in response to numerous inquires by novice or uninformed social media users about the meaning of #Ж, which also encroached on Facebook thanks to apps that automatically post tweets as statuses. He illustrated it with a collage by Sead93 and Banekoma [mk], featuring a parody of the famous quote of President Ivanov, who – when asked by journalists to define what he means by saying he advocates “reasonable compromise” in the name dispute with Greecefuriously retorted [mk] with the haphazard tautology: “Reasonable compromise is a reasonable compromise! I cannot explain that to you now!”

"What is #Zh? – #Zh is #Zh!"
Collage about Prime Minister's hashtag, featuring President Ivanov.


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