You can learn a lot of weird things from the Indignant Minnesotan Twitter feed.
For example, we have more Caribou Coffee shops in Minnesota than Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts, the chains that dominate every other state. Or, this: When the question of what each state’s equivalent to Hawaii’s lei-giving tradition was posed to the website Reddit, the most popular response for Minnesota was: “Personal guided tour around the state.”
Consider @IndignantMN a crash course in North Star culture. It’s a concise digital compendium of our singular social predilections, why we’re successful and why we’re superior.
More specifically, it’s a way for Minnesotans to collectively hate on the Wisconsinite with the “PR1NC3” personalized license plate. Or cheer our streak of eight consecutive months of measurable snow. Or rally around the guy who honked at someone for driving the wrong way through a Trader Joe’s parking lot — and then went over and apologized.
@Indignant MN became an official state celebrity when the St. Paul Saints recently invited the account’s founders to throw out the first pitch at the Talk Minnesotan to Me Night.
One of the two, whom we’ll call Indignant Minnesotan No. 1 (because both men prefer anonymity), has a theory on why @IndignantMN quickly amassed 11,000-plus followers: “So many people want an excuse to be a proud Minnesotan, because we’re all so humble — or we’re supposed to be, or assumed to be — so this is a way to brag about Minnesota.”
@IndignantMN’s boasts are often retweets of a new No. 1 ranking (for our numerous parks, our well-oiled airport, our robust voter turnout and so on) or accolades bestowed on local heroes (Prince, Lindsay Whalen, the driver who hit a squirrel and then revived it by performing chest compressions).
The account shares its fans’ tweets about Juicy Lucys and shoveling, the State Fair and a canoe portaging marathon. Its feed consists of countless “I Voted” selfies, a rare grape salad sighting, along with the occasional Duck, Duck, Gray Duck or “Mighty Ducks” reference.
@IndignantMN recently retweeted a photo that embodied Minnesota Nice: a twice lost, twice returned “bike wallet” (a small plastic bag to carry the essentials), which was found and mailed to its owner — with the cash still intact.
The most frequent posts in @IndignantMN’s feed reflect our collective fear of seeming self-indulgent or greedy: photographs of the remaining half-cookie or eighth of a doughnut from a shared plate of treats. One image shows a last forlorn bite of lefse, another the final Post-it note, torn in half. A plate containing one lonely M&M documents the practice at its ridiculous pinnacle.
Born of a slight
In 2015, Washington Post data reporter Christopher Ingraham unwittingly spawned @IndignantMN when he blogged a U.S. Department of Agriculture data set that ranked the natural amenities (a composite of geography and climate statistics) of each U.S. county. The department’s index favored mild weather and varied topography, which is how Red Lake County, northwest of Bemidji, ended up “the absolute worst place to live in America.”
Local twitterati, or “the denizens of self-proclaimed ‘Indignant Minnesota Twitter,’ ” as Ingraham later called them, proclaimed the methodology “garbage” and “farkakte” (Yiddish for, essentially, B.S.) and deluged the reporter with photos of the state’s scenic beauty.
Although he frequently reports on geographic rankings, in which one state always has to come in last, he said he’d never seen a “losing” community respond with such outrage. When he mentioned this to the twitterverse, the newly created @IndignantMN replied: “Minnesotans have thick coats but thin skin.”
Our collective mentality
Who is Indignant Minnesotan? Or, better question: Who are these Indignant Minnesotans?
The account’s co-creators are two self-styled “local Twitter guys,” although calling them collaborators might be overstating their relationship.
The two don’t really know each other in real life — fittingly, most of their interactions have been through Twitter. (They have met in person a few times and, it turns out, had competed against each other in high school speech tournaments.)
Indignant Minnesotan No. 1 (IM1 from here on out) and Indignant Minnesotan No. 2 (IM2) operate the account independently, without coordinating their efforts. They don’t trade off weeks or even let each other know if they’re going to tweet. Sometimes they won’t log in for weeks. Other times, when the account is engaged in a hot conversation, they might check it several times an hour, all day long.
The name, they say, reflects Minnesotans’ collective mentality, which IM2 summarized as: “We are proud to be Minnesotans. We love everything Minnesota and hate everything Wisconsin.”
And what, exactly, is the account’s goal?
“Part of it is elevating the existing silly stereotypes of Minnesota, but part of it is also challenging it,” IM1 said. “It’s supposed to be aspirational in that we don’t just have to be the caricature.”
IM2 offered a concise explanation: “If I were to create a fictional biography for the account, it would be that we are an over-the-top public relations firm for the state, funded by an obscure Dayton son.”
The indignation in us all
Although a committed cybersleuth might be able to figure out IM1’s and IM2’s identities, so far none of the guesses sent to the account has been correct. The co-tweeters say they prefer that the account stay anonymous so that all Minnesotans can project themselves onto it.
“This way, everyone can be in on the joke,” IM1 said in an interview on TPT’s “Almanac,” with his voice synthesized and his face blacked out. (The TV appearance outed IM1 to his wife’s aunt and grandma, “Almanac” regulars who recognized his mannerisms.)
“The most satisfying thing is when people I know tell me something they saw from the account, without knowing it’s me,” he said.
Despite their devotion to Minnesota, the co-tweeters confess they’re not perfect cultural specimens. When asked about one of the account’s most popular hashtags, #MinnesotaConfessions, IM1 admitted to having no qualms about taking the last cookie. IM2 acknowledged that a favorite beer and musical artist are from Wisconsin.
Since IM1 and IM2 are both on Twitter so much (“an unhealthy amount,” IM1 said), every once in a while they’ll log into the account and tweet about the same thing at the same time.
A few weeks ago, when @IndignantMN was asked to share its view of the #Timberwolves #NBADraftLottery results, IM2 responded, “We do not need to win the NBA draft lottery. We won the lottery by being Minnesota.” Meanwhile, IM1 quipped, “Getting the top player can actually be bad and we’d rather have a less good player and Go Wolves and [stops talking to slam a Grain Belt Premium].”
Fans love @IndignantMN’s irreverence, even if they might be unaware of its operation.
Follower Todd Husfeldt of Wells, Minn., who has frequently tagged, liked and retweeted @IndignantMN, explained why the account appeals to him.
“He has a realistic, humorous approach to life in MN,” Husfeldt wrote via direct message. “He finds the norms of MN and makes light of them.”
IM1 and IM2 are lifelong Minnesotans full of high praise for their statemates. IM1’s favorite thing about Minnesota is the community’s ethic of caring and supporting one another, while IM2 appreciates the state’s well-rounded nature and says it puts him at balance.
“Minnesotans as a group are fantastic, and they’re also completely absurd, so we are celebrating that,” IM1 said. “Any person who will twist an Oreo in half and only takes part of it — that’s extreme.”