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Why Are People So Mad at Elon?
As you know, Elon Musk bought the majority share of Twitter yesterday, and he plans to take the company private.
This is a strange event we are witnessing, because the reactions from people are so different and frankly … confusing.
Here is a tweet I put out yesterday. It got hundreds of likes and dozens of comments. A majority of the comments appear to be emotionally charged.
I still don’t understand.
Why do people despise Elon Musk?
There is no doubt that Tesla is making more progress than any other company to combat climate change. Motor vehicles are the #1 offender in releasing hydrocarbons into the atmosphere, and Tesla has built by far the best and most scalable framework on developing affordable electric cars that people want.
SpaceX is bringing humanity back into space. How does that not excite people? I suppose I can see the viewpoint of “why bother going to Mars when we are destroying this planet?”, but regardless, there is more to space than going to Mars.
How do you think you have the GPS tracker on your phone? Or Google maps? Or WIFI? or the internet? Or pictures of far away planets?
These are frontiers that humans used to be excited about. We used to strive for intelligence, not belittle it.
I don’t know Elon Musk, but there is nothing I have seen from him that makes me angry. He’s an entrepreneur. The best I can tell, he is the most capable entrepreneur of the last century and has the competence to execute on tasks that most people thought were impossible.
I’m impressed by him.
The Battle for Twitter
There is so much about the argument over Twitter that confuses me. Both sides (btw, it’s a shame that there are sides to something that is so clearly ubiquitous for all of us) are claiming intellectual territory that holds no merit. Here are the arguments …
1. “Our free speech is being eroded away” - Is it? Any time I have ever asked someone who complains on Twitter (ironic) about how they have lost their free speech rights, I’ve yet to receive an actual argument or example of when their first amendment rights were violated.
The argument becomes “The first amendment gives you the right to assemble and Twitter is the new Town Square.” Okay, that’s great … but you can still go to any town square and make your voice heard, just like always. Say what you want about “cancel culture” but the free market has the right to cancel who it wants. People vote with their money and their voices. Eventually, the idea of cancellation will be voted away as well.
It’s not about fair, unfair, or free speech. It’s about the push and pull nature of the free market of ideas. (Which, btw, is exactly what is happening now).
The argument that Twitter is somehow interrupting the First Amendment is incredibly stupid.
2. “One man shouldn’t have the control over our narratives” - Although I agree in principal, the argument is also moot. These are the rules of the game. A company has a financial obligation to provide for it’s investors. If an offer comes around that is in the best interest of a companies investors, the board of the company needs to take that offer.
You accepted these rules the second you were born. You’ve bought into these rules when educated about our founding fathers. You can opt out of these rules any time by moving. These rules, however imperfect, are the best set of rules we have to run a free society, and anyone that believes otherwise has the freedom to opt out.
No rules were broken here. This is the free market at work.
When Trump was banned, the defenders of the ban (myself included) were accurately stating that “Twitter is a private company and they can do whatever they want within their platform.” These people should be saying the same thing now. When you play the game, you must accept all outcomes.
The move from Elon Musk to buy Twitter is fair play and the only difference between now and then is how you feel about the outcome.
What Do I think?
Billionaires own the media. They always have and they always will. The market for ideas is competed against in the same way the market for capital is. In America, we don’t like our billionaires, but we ignore the fact that we owe them a debt of gratitude.
There is no doubt that the quality of your life has improved with Jeff Bezos building Amazon, Bill Gates building the mass production of the PCs, and Elon Musk building the mass production of electric vehicles.
It “feels” unfair to most people because they see a gap in income and it triggers a survival mechanism in their brain stems that instinctively wants to form a new tribe that kills the chief and consolidates power to themselves.
These reactions are another fascinating example of how our brains have not evolved to handle living in such an interconnected society of network effects, global economies and tribes of millions of people.
The Final Analysis
We’ll see what happens. I’m learning first hand how foolish it is to make blanket predictions, so I don’t know what will happen. Life is unpredictable. There’s nothing else to do except to accept the situation, be open to making adjustments, and to act accordingly.
I’m half excited about the change in Twitter. Twitter is “the water cooler” of our society. Journalists, politicians, entrepreneurs, thinkers, writers, and thought leaders from every avenue of life interact on Twitter. That’s very important.
However, I’m also slightly concerned. It’s dangerous to give so much power to one person. It’s hysterical to me that all the “free speech soldiers” on Twitter feel perfectly fine with giving control of the entire network to one person. Does that not seem … off?
Nothing is ever as good or as bad as it seems.
But, even after writing this post, I’m not any closer to understanding why people hate Elon so much.
I think it’s more so that we hate our billionaires.