"If my name was Ed Smith it wouldn't have been the same amusement in there," a British politician says. But he's not Ed Smith, he's Ed Balls, and as of Wednesday, his Blackberry misfire has been a Twitter joke for 10 years running. Balls was trying to see what people were tweeting about him at the time, when he accidentally sent out a tweet with just his name, the New York Times reports. Given the Twitter furniture on the post, that means the actual tweet said, "Ed Balls @edballs Ed Balls." Many people on Twitter got a laugh out of it, but the more unusual response was that the laughing recurred every year on the tweet's anniversary. Balls gets the joke, and he's in on it every year, starting on the first anniversary when he posted a photo of himself at a soccer match. It also resurfaces when someone makes a similar Twitter mistake.
Balls, who was a member of Parliament at the time, never thought the memes were mean and expressed no irritation. He came across like "everyone’s embarrassing dad, and that's fine," said a writer who follows the memes. "When I was 12, I might have been appalled for my name to be part of a joke," Balls says, "but by the time I was 45 I was well beyond that." The joke has gotten old for some. A London journalist sees a divide between those who laughed the first few years but have moved on—possibly reaching some level of Twitter maturity—and people who say, "No, we will never move on, for as long as we live we will celebrate Ed Balls Day." Not even Balls' appearances on Strictly Come Dancing made people forget the tweet, per the Irish Sun. Realizing his limited options, Balls has embraced his Twitter infamy while keeping ironic distance. "If I were to be offended or to be proud, that would ruin the joke, wouldn't it?" he says. "There's nothing I can do but smile to myself and think it's a funny old world." ("Covfefe" has needed official help to have this sort of staying power.)