The humble underscore can mean the difference between a world leader and an infinitely funnier man with the same name.
The latter, David Cameron, is often mistaken by Twitter users for the U.K. Prime Minister of the same name. The politician recently joined Twitter under his own name, using the handle @david_cameron. The other David Cameron is @davidcameron. You may see where the confusion lies.
“I am NOT the prime minister. I am a dude from America, who is more awesome than the prime minister,” Cameron writes in his Twitter bio. His responses to the mixups suggest he’s probably right.
“Getting angry at people on Twitter would be like trying to win a slapping contest with a hive of bees,” Cameron—a McMinnville, Ore., twentysomething who does data collection in the media research sector—told the Daily Dot. “There would be no point, and you look like an idiot for trying.”
That’s not to say others haven’t tried riling up the man they think is the U.K. leader. One Twitter user in particular sent “some pretty horrible war time injury photos. Dead bodies and gore,” Cameron recalled. Rather than respond to that user, Cameron blocked them.
Initially, the @davidcameron handle belonged to a political blogger who was trying to direct eyeballs to his site. Once the account went dormant, Cameron filed a request with Twitter, claiming that the blogger was squatting on his name. Twitter deactivated the account, and Cameron’s been using the handle since 2007. Cameron said no one from the U.K. Government had been in touch to ask if he'd hand over the handle, though someone else tried to buy it for comedy purposes.
While he’s received tweets users have directed at Prime Minister Cameron since his first week on Twitter, there was a notable spike when news broke of the Conservative Party leader signing up.
“My family was going to the zoo that day, and I did a simple post stating that fact,” Cameron wrote in an email. “When we got home I saw that it had been re-tweeted by a bunch of people, and I was getting @replies like crazy that day. It has tapered off in the last few weeks, but I still get 5-10 a day.”
He doesn’t mind gently trolling some of the people who mistakenly tweet him. He received “a lot of non-English language messages” for a spell, would run those tweets through Google Translate, and reply in those users’ own languages. Meanwhile, when he receives misdirected complaints about badger culls, Cameron often replies with a link to a certain YouTube video:
“I rarely tell people straight up that they sent their message to the wrong person. I like to reply as if they meant to send it to me. It is funny to answer as if these folks are interested in my views on foreign affairs or UK policy. Most people complain about [the National Health Service].”
The mistaken identity hasn’t had too much impact on Cameron’s life. He uses Twitter for entertainment and wasting time. But with replies like these, he’s not the only one who’s entertained:
Photo via @davidcameron/Twitter