Twitter Is Elon Musk’s Latest, Greatest Mistake
Elon Musk is not all that smart. Look, weird Muskies, I know he has more money than I'll ever have. Kim Kardashian has more money than you. Still happy with that as a metric for intelligence? What's more, Kardashian is entirely self-made, while Musk inherited his start in life from his father's emerald mine. He was so rich that he has previously bragged about walking around New York as a kid with emeralds loose in his pocket, and having so much money his parents couldn't close the safe and had to peel notes out through the cracks, they were overflowing so cartoonishly. Musk has made some good, if occasionally unethical, moves in order to grow from 'regular rich kid with a safe bursting off the wall' to 'richest guy in the world', I will give him credit for that. There are times when he has shown he has known what he's doing. But also far more times when he's been completely out of his depth. Twitter is one of those times.
A little while ago, Musk stood on stage with his unbreakable car and, with full confidence, asked an audience member to throw a metal ball at the armour glass. The glass, along with a tiny sliver of Musk's ego, broke. In short, Musk failed. He's currently back on stage, this time, the car is Twitter. Pretty soon, someone is going to throw the first ball.
Related: The Attack On Nancy Pelosi Is Another Stark Reminder Of The Dangers Of GamergateIn a way, you could argue the damage has already been self-inflicted. In Musk's short time as 'Chief Twit', he has gutted the already overworked staff, shared a wildly inaccurate conspiracy theory, led to a huge boost in posts using the n-word, announced plans to start charging verified users a subscription fee, and chased away gaming's best news aggregator, Nibel. The Nibel issue struck me immediately as a little 'too online' for me to write about, as something that mostly affects journalists who were friends and colleagues with Nibel, rather than our audience. But Nibel was one of Twitter's most interesting and important contributors, and at any other social platform, they would have been compensated for that – Musk, in his infinite genius, saw the success of that strategy and decided to do the opposite by charging these accounts instead.
Musk bought Twitter impulsively for a wildly inflated price, and even he knows it. He tried to back out of the deal on multiple occasions, and now, just like when the window on his unbreakable car broke, he has to smile through the pain. In truth, his bold vision of Twitter is already full of holes, but they're strategically hidden from view, on the other side of the car. But he can't keep them hidden forever. Sooner or later, Donald Trump is going to throw that ball with his very small hands. Musk has bragged about open free speech, and has deliberately allowed that to be interpreted as 'anyone can say whatever they want', because ultimately he is a populist. But he is already gladhanding advertisers publicly to tell them the opposite. If Twitter becomes an entirely open site where hatred, anger, and copious doses of the n-word are allowed to roam free, most users (and most advertisers) will leave, and they'll throw metal balls at his windows when they do. If Musk backs down from entirely free speech to please the masses and keep the advertising money rolling in, his army of superfans will show up with metal balls of their own.
Despite his claims, Musk has never been an advocate for the future, only for ways to make himself money. He did not start Tesla, but strong-armed his way onto the board and then used government grants he did not have to lure investors, who then obtained the government grants on his behalf. Tesla, in more ways than one, is a stolen company. And it's not even forward thinking. For all Tesla makes electric cars, it makes most of its money by selling carbon credits. In short, carbon credits are 'good job!' tokens for producing clean energy. Tesla's buyers are undisclosed, but it's highly likely they are sold to competitors, meaning Tesla makes a profit every time another car company pollutes the planet.
Musk has been making a series of unforced errors recently, and it may be to do with the huge amount of his wealth tied up in Tesla, which, despite its prominence in pop culture, is failing. Its stock is plunging, the build quality of its once-luxury vehicles has become increasingly shoddy, it's failing to ship pretty much anything on time, and it has had a series of expensive and often disappointing experiments, much like the armour glass. It might be why Musk inflated various crypto currencies, only to sell them high, then be sued for illegal trading. Twitter was an impulse buy from a man with an ego larger than his brain, and now as he races to run it both cheaply and for profit, he may find that neither is possible. Maybe when he finally admits defeat in this endeavour, he can sell Twitter to Kim Kardashian. At least then, it will be run by someone with business sense.
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