I have often said that each new technology often goes downhill when unsavoury parts of our society get to it. Email was fine before spammers, Wikipedia was fine without sociopaths, Blogger was fine without Google ownership, and Google was fine without an NYSE listing.
But what does one make of Twitter? Once upon a time, it was a decent place to hang out. Ask Stephen Fry.
Today, however, with all sorts of people on it, the post-spammer, post-sociopath stage appears to be: watch the rich lose it.
Those who don’t like President Trump might think I’m thinking of him, but it was actually Elon Musk, whose efforts on so many fronts I have publicly admired, who seems to be the latest in turning his corner of Twitter into an angry man’s rant record.
Not long ago, I saw Musk argue with a Tweeter about economics and blocking him. Of course it’s everyone’s prerogative to block as they see fit, but I always remember what my parents told me when I was a child: the really powerful see the big picture. They don’t sweat the small stuff. And this seems like someone sweating the small stuff. Even if he is the 53rd richest person in the world.
From Techcrunch (hat tip to Adeline Chua):
There’s more on that story here.
Just goes to show that u may own a space exploration company, run an automobile business, be 53rd richest person in the world but still spend time bickering on social media like everyone else.
A monumental idiot indeed.
— Adeline Chua (@addychua) July 16, 2018
I’m not sure what Musk intends with all of these Tweets, but I’m losing respect for the man. He probably wouldn’t care what I think, but then, going on the earlier Tweets, he probably does.
As someone who leads a much, much smaller bunch of companies, I know the boss’s public statements do impact on the rest of the team, and how your firm’s perceived.
If we look at the rich, Sir Richard Branson is a great ambassador for his ventures and is careful about what he says. His brands are tied in with his personal image, and he’s well aware of that. Elon Musk is not an exception: his personality and announcements are keeping Tesla’s faithful invested in the brand, for instance.
On the one hand, it’s great that Twitter is a great leveller. But with that comes other risks. If it is a leveller, bringing everyone to the level of the village merchant, then we can make a choice about whom we deal with.
In a real-life village, when we walk round, we may choose to buy from certain people and not others, because of how we’re treated or what their reputation’s like.
In this virtual village, we have one of the wealthiest players ranting in the corner.
And therein lies the risk for Tesla and SpaceX. Maybe he’s so confident at his lead that, with or without him, his dreams can come true. It would be great if we did have more electric cars and more affordable space exploration. However, while the founder is still young, alive and kicking, I’m afraid these ventures are still very much tied to how we perceive him. I’m not sure that being a rich, angry Tweeter who calls a rescuer a ‘pedo’ is the image that a Tesla buyer, for instance, wants to be associated with.
Frankly, if we’re going to remember anyone in the whole Thai cave rescue, let it be Saman Kunan, the former Thai navy SEAL diver who lost his life.