We all enjoy that smug sense of satisfaction when a figure of authority gets something wrong, and there’s nobody more in the crosshairs than politicians. Five years ago today, one poor MP did something so comical and clueless, he seems destined to be ridiculed over it on every April 28th for the rest of his life.
On April 28th 2011, the then Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, Ed Balls, confused his followers with the following tweet:
— Ed Balls (@edballs) April 28, 2011
What was he doing? Had Balls turned into a Pokémon incapable of saying anything other than his own name? Maybe he was trying to imitate the Matt Damon puppet in the 2004 film ‘Team America: World Police’, whose lines are just the words ‘Matt Damon’ repeated periodically throughout the film?
All Balls was actually trying to do was search Twitter for what other users were saying about him. Sadly, instead of using the box clearly marked ‘Search Twitter’, it appears that he inadvertently composed a tweet of his search term, and then didn’t know that it’s possible to delete a tweet. Impressively, Balls appears to use correct capitalisation even when using search tools.
The botched tweet was such a classic example of how the people tasked with running the country can make a pig’s ear of modern communication, that the UK public took it to their hearts and have retweeted it more than 64,000 times. That number will no doubt only increase today, with #EdBallsDay unsurprisingly trending.
If you want to join the fun of #EdBallsDay, it’s possibly the easiest hashtag of the year to get involved in, and there are two ways to do it. The first is simply to retweet Balls’ tweet from five years ago today, and watch that retweet count soar as other teasing Twitter users do the same.
The second is a little more creative but still very straightforward – follow Balls’ lead and tweet your own name. That was what we did last year:
— Engage Web (@EngageWeb) April 28, 2015
After losing his seat in the General Election last year, Balls stepped down from his position and currently holds roles at the John F. Kennedy School of Government and Norwich City F.C., yet he still creates a social media sensation once a year, and how many other politicians can say that (other than Donald Trump, who seems to stir something up every day)?
Balls has always taken his gaffe in good humour, usually getting involved in Ed Balls Day himself. In fact, he even contributed a signed and framed copy of his infamous tweet to an auction last year. That took some Balls!