Elon Musk is referred to by many as the man who ruined Twitter. PHOTO COURTESY OF TED ED
In the few weeks since Elon Musk bought Twitter, #TrumpIsDead trended without Donald Trump actually dying, Musk failed to convince multiple celebrities why paying for Twitter is a good idea, many people impersonated Musk to make fun of him, and use of the N-word among users went up 500 percent per The Network Contagion Research Institute (NCRI). Twitter may be experiencing its very public demise, all part of one of the worst declines in a public figure’s image ever seen.
I remember during my high school years when Elon Musk started making waves amongst my friends due to his social media behavior and his funding of the “Boring Company.” From tweeting about creating real life anime cat girls to selling literal flamethrowers, Musk was this fascinating mad scientist-type character who, along with his eccentric behavior, had rather respectable aspirations for America.
For many years, Musk’s SpaceX and Tesla represented the younger generation through creating a more eco-friendly and STEM-centric world, particularly with Tesla’s early push towards electric cars. These movements, especially the gasless cars, were also chastised by the same Republican party that Musk would later go on to try and cater to.
The unfortunate downside of success is people start to look deeper into one’s past. One thing that always bothered me about Musk’s narrative was that he was this self-made genius, even ranked an eight out of ten in Forbes’ “Self-Made Source” rankings. While Musk certainly has a rather successful track record for creating businesses, his father owned an emerald mine per Business Insider. It is slightly hard for me to believe that the son of a gemstone mine is as completely self-made as he touts.
Despite being a time of financial struggle for many, the COVID-19 pandemic only increased the wealth of billionaires such as Musk, with the Tesla owner making $293.7 billion in January 2020 to November 2021, according to Forbes. Albeit good for his wallet, his social media presence and baffling financial gains made many become sour on Musk. Going from tweeting about his plans for SpaceX to reach Mars to making fun of pronoun usage also further alienated him from his original supporters.
Social media, especially Twitter, is a ruthless place. I remember the backlash of Tesla’s self-driving cars malfunctioning and almost flattening civilians and actually causing collisions. In September 2022, Musk became a target once again for his distaste of remote work, saying he would fire employees who refused to come to the office. This mindset goes against recent statistics regarding remote work and productivity, as an Ergotron study revealed remote work improved aspects such as work-life balance, job satisfaction and physical health.
“As employers look to attract and retain talent, focusing on practices that promote well-being and help employees thrive wherever they work will be critical,” Ergotron CEO Chad Severson said.
Musk not only hates working from home, but also apparently hates accessibility. Just last week, Musk fired all members of multiple teams focusing on elements such as human rights, accessibility, along with a team dedicated to algorithm research, according to Yahoo Finance. I find it odd to think that these actions were done by a man who once pushed for walkable cities.
Another initial action of Musk’s Twitter ownership was to, by his words, legalize comedy, referring to the website’s censorship of radical political posts. Musk seemingly only wanted to legalize comedy not directed at himself, as after numerous accounts impersonated Musk and posted crude statements, Musk hilariously decides to prohibit some forms of comedy.
“Going forward, any Twitter handles engaging in impersonation without clearly specifying ‘parody’ will be permanently suspended,” Musk said in a tweet posted on Nov. 6, 2022.
Can impersonating accounts be dangerous for journalism? Of course, but that is clearly not what Musk cares about through these actions. Musk only cares about cultivating his cult of personality and “genius” narrative, practically to the point of self-destruction. Not only do both sides of the political spectrum now mock him, but he is a few hasty layoffs away from destroying the firm he just spent $44 billion on.
If Twitter goes under, which seems shockingly possible, at least society may learn that listening to a billionaire who argues with people on social media may not be the best idea going forward.