On the morning of Valentine’s Day, I logged onto Twitter and, like many other users, discovered that most of my feed was now made up of tweets from Musk. The news website Platformer later offered an account of why this might be so. Musk, according to Platformer’s coverage, was annoyed that his tweet about the Super Bowl had received less engagement than President Biden’s tweet about the Super Bowl. Twitter’s engineers were reportedly tasked with manipulating the site’s algorithm, boosting their boss’ posts by a factor of 1,000 percent.
Let’s take a break. If you had the power to grab the attention of millions of people in an instant, what would you use that power for?
Okay, what would a 12-year-old boy do?
I’ll tell you which Musk tweet popped up uninvited on my feed Tuesday morning: a drawing of a circle labeled “Earth,” overlaid with a cartoon sketch of a man. At one end, the man’s head was a statue of Easter Island; at the other end his toes were Stonehenge. In the center, protruding obscenely from the man’s pelvis, the Washington Monument.
The second richest man in the world had used his platform to make a penis joke.
“Coincidences don’t exist,” Musk added in comment.
The amount of time I’ve spent speculating about the psychology of Elon Musk is time I’ll never get back, worthless time, especially as it becomes apparent how much I overcomplicate things. Does Musk really believe that humanity is endangered by the “woke mind virus”, or did he just come up with a button that you can press to make the little ants do their little ant dance? Does he really believe he’s changing the world for good, or does he just want a playground for his billionaire friends?
The theory I’ve come up with is the simplest: Musk is a rich man’s boyhood idea. That idea is an Aqua Teen Hunger Force themed Trapper Keeper’s worth of giddy, hormonal fantasies with four sodas: Fast cars, starships, beautiful women, phallic jokes, dog memes, superhero costumes, adoring fans, rich and/or famous friends, “hardcore” underlings.
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Many of us would, given the chance, relive our adolescence from the billionaire POV. Alas, the process of adulthood is learning to compromise, to differentiate, to lose gracefully. It requires admitting when you’re wrong, if not because you think you’re wrong then because you need health insurance and you don’t want to get fired. The world provides guardrails against our youthful impulses, especially the ones we keep dragging behind us as we fish for middle age.
Freed from such guardrails, and surrounded by people who don’t want to get fired, it seems that Elon Musk has gone completely “Blank Check”, so to speak. Grab the limousine driver, we go to Sharper Image and buy a robot bartender and an automated laugh track.
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This is not quite a revolutionary framing. Since buying Twitter last year, Musk has made headlines for his proclivity for being bold, breakneck and eloquent. In December, he posted a poll asking whether he should even remain CEO, pledging to stick with the results (57 percent of respondents said he should resign, which he has said he will do once he has one). find a replacement). Being a billionaire has long meant you can buy carelessness.
But Musk doesn’t buy carelessness so much as the ability to care about childish things — like whether enough people see the joke about how the Washington Monument is like a penis — well past the age when you should let that sort of thing go.