Opinion | Elon Musk needs attention

Published by Megan John, Date: December 4, 2022
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On Nov. 22, The Rocket published an article about the past, present and potential future of Elon Musk’s Twitter. Since Musk took control on Oct. 28, we have seen a series of headlines that look more like April Fool’s pranks than reality. Is it an elaborate PR stunt, or a grand reveal of the type of person Musk really is? 

It’s probably a PR stunt, but that is only part of my point. Some rich fool with a chokehold on thousands of people’s income streams is using his influence to pick fights with Apple and post PSYOP memes. They are not even good memes. Let us have a laugh about it. 

Disclaimer: I will be referencing The Rocket’s article, but the opinions expressed are mine and mine alone. 

From the beginning, Musk’s chaotic management style made the news. The original price he suggested for a “verified” check mark, $20, earned him backlash from all sorts of Twitter users. One of these was authors was Stephen King. Of course, he chose to respond to the famous guy and gained that sweet, sweet attention he probably never got from his parents. 

Then there was the poll about reinstating Trump, the totally-not-staged photo of Musk’s bedside table, and most recently, his claims against Apple. The most profitable company in the world recently pulled most advertising from Twitter. Musk, who talks a lot about free speech, but may or may not understand what it actually means, responded by asking, “Do they hate free speech in America?” Two days later, he was touring their headquarters with Apple’s CEO. 

Elon Musk can say whatever he wants and end up in the headlines. Fans believe that every move he makes is part of a 4-D chess game, but is that really the case? 

Musk’s former employees have been talking about their experience for years. He has been described as “laser-focused,” “highly intelligent” and highly influenced by social media, according to sources from the New York Post and Business Insider. 

Then there is the Tumblr post from a former SpaceX intern, who worked for the company when it was much smaller. This person, who goes by “numberonecatwinner,” had a wildly different take. 

“Back when I was at SpaceX, Elon was basically a child king,” they said. “He … provided the company with the money, power and PR, but he didn’t have the knowledge or (frankly) maturity to handle day-to-day decision making and everyone knew that. He was surrounded by people whose job was, essentially, to manipulate him into making good decisions. 

“There is no company culture or internal structure around managing Elon Musk [at Twitter], and I think for the first time we’re seeing what happens when people actually take that man seriously and at face value. Worse, they’re doing this little experiment after this man has had decades of success at companies that dedicate significant resources to protecting themselves from him, and he’s too narcissistic to realize it.” 

For context, their experience probably took place around the mid-2000s. Employees who spoke to news outlets all worked for Musk during the 2010s. Musk has had time to grow since his supposed “child king” days, but if they are telling the truth, they may not be entirely past. 

What stuck out to me is social media’s influence over Musk. He often uses the phrase “vox populi, vox dei,” or “the voice of the people is the voice of God.” The eyes of most journalists are trained on him. He holds a super-popular social media site in the palm of his hand. In the media, he might as well be God. I am sure he feels like one. 

Musk wields his power like a little kid with a big, sharp stick: wildly waving it around with no regard for danger, making sure everyone knows his stick is the biggest and sharpest. Someone is bound to get poked in the eye. I just hope it is him, rather than one of the many people he views as disposable. 

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