Tuesday, December 20, 2022

How can we miss Elon Musk if he won't go away?

     Hunkering down is a survival skill. There are times to fight, and times to flee, and times to keep your head low and wait.
     That last option seemed the only thing to do when Tesla mogul and Space X founder Elon Musk rode into town as the new boss of Twitter in late October. Yes, I began ballyhooing my stuff on Mastodon, or whatever they call their imitation of tweets ("PUBLISH!" the purple button says). But the service is even more random and ineffectual than Twitter, which is saying a lot, given how little traction my work gets there. Mastodon seems more like storing a few gallon jugs of water stashed in the basement — a symbolic gesture that won't really help much should  disaster occur.
     Besides, whatever change Musk was fomenting — inviting antisemites out of their holes to strut around in the light of day, banning a few journalists who had the temerity to write stories about him — didn't affect me in any direct sense. Twitter has always been a free-fire zone of malice and 99.999 percent of the stuff flying around I never see anyway. It's a breeze upon which to send my little balloons of writing wafting off into the aether.
     Honestly, I wouldn't have noticed a change except that I lost about 400 followers. I was closing in on 10,000, which is nothing in the larger picture, b
ut a milestone in my dusty corner of the Sunset League. Now I've sunk below 9,500 and falling steadily, though I can't tell whether those are people more moral than myself fleeing the service, or robot followers being evaporated by some more efficient purging system put in place by the new regime.

    Now Musk has done one of his spurious polls to see whether he should step down as the head of Twitter, and the answer was a resounding "yes"—57 percent of 17 million voters said, "Don't let the door hit you in the ass, Elon." Never mind that those polls can easily be manipulated by the spambots and web robots that supposedly proliferated after the people in charge of getting rid of them were fired, or quit, when half the staff left upon Musk's arrival. It seems as if Musk will ignore the result anyway, in classic MAGA it's-only-fair-if-I-win style.
Last week I did ask myself if, by staying, I'm passively enabling evil, the good German sweeping his front step and not looking at the smoke coming from the crematorium. But all human systems are freighted with bad, and tweeting once a day doesn't seem like participating in wrongdoing any more than paying taxes or buying products. Leave reaching for moral purity to the vegans. Donald Trump was president for four years and I didn't go anywhere; how is this different?
     Musk has said he will abide by the people's choice, and maybe he will. Hard to tell when you're dealing with such an established hypocrite and liar. He could always bring in some even bigger asshat to run the thing. One hopes he goes back to running Tesla's, whose stock cratered in his absence, losing a third of its value over the past six months (including the 5 percent leap for joy it did Monday on learning Musk might stop spending his days sniping at people on Twitter).
     The poll strikes me as a fig leaf. With both Twitter and Tesla hemorrhaging value, the farce is bound to end sooner than later, as adults nudge Musk aside to a setting better suited to his ranting and preening.

     There's a reason children are warehoused in schools and not put in positions of authority. Ego is poison, attention an addictive drug, and people without the moderating influence of humility, maturity and good sense should avoid flailing around in public. Elon Musk spent $44 billion — most of it other people's money, of course — to cement his reputation as a bully with the impulse control of a toddler. From the public point of view, that might be a service, long term. Now we know. At least he was born in South Africa, and so can't be elected president of the United States. It's happened before.
     And then Trump went away. Or at least is in the painful, protracted process of going away. Waiting works. I've worked for my share of bad bosses before. They tend to move on down the pike if you just are patient. They arrive, manifest their inability, flail around, and then head off to explore new horizons while those behind heave a grateful sigh. The model I used was a previous classic business disaster, when Quaker Oats bought Snapple for $1.7 billion in November, 1994, twice its actual market value, ran the brand into the ground, and sold it for $300 million, half its actual worth, in March 1997. The entire fiasco didn't take three years to unfold, start to finish. I can't imagine Musk lasting that long. Heck, at this rate, he'll be gone by springtime.


  1. Trump is probably on his way out politically but his constituency of poorly informed, greedy white supremacists is not. They will follow the lies of the next one up.
    He’ll remain in the news due largely to the legal issues he faces.
    Elon won’t go away easily because he is younger and really needs the attention. Remember, before Twitter there was his live pot smoking episode and of course the marketing of his flame throwers. Look that up. How about his tunnels? Where are they?
    As Tesla falls victim to the major auto manufacturers who are finally getting with the program of making all electric cars, it will be more difficult for him to stay in the news.
    Space X, which is largely funded by our tax dollars will keep him living comfortably.

  2. After Elon was drubbed in his popularity poll, as you noted, some random guy tweeted that only "Blue subscribers" (otherwise known as losers willing to pay Elon $8 a month for a blue check-mark next to their name) should be allowed to vote in such "policy related polls." (Needless to say, that guy is among the bootlickers who has a blue check.)

    Elon himself replied: "Good point. Twitter will make that change."

    Quite the take from the supposed Free Speech Avenger.

    What I love most about Elon's self-inflicted Twitter disaster is how he has chosen to champion a bunch of white supremacists, anti-Semites and "politically incorrect" Republican fake-news aficionados, many of whom are neither wealthy enough, nor, due to their attitudes toward climate change, at all interested in purchasing a Tesla. Meanwhile, he's demonstrated what a creep he is and royally pissed off many of the very (shudder) "woke liberals" who actually bought Teslas and supported the company. Couple that development with the fact that many better car companies than his are or will soon be producing cheaper, better electric cars than his, and he doesn't seem nearly as smart as he and his minions think he is. Of course, I could be wrong, since I'm not a galaxy-brain genius.


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