Sunday, December 04, 2022

Slate Let Some Soyboys Run Their Mouths Reckless Before The Friday File Drop...,

Slate |   Musk’s rightward drift is one of the most scrutinized storylines in the tech sector. After fashioning himself as an ecological visionary dedicated to saving human civilization from disaster through clean energy, space colonization, and a thick portfolio filled with generous government contracts, Musk has recently solidified himself as a fringe, sideshow mouthpiece for the Lauren Boebert wing of the GOP. (He still claims to be a centrist, in the same way that commentator Tim Pool claims to be a disaffected liberal.) All of the man’s established precepts have been swapped out with issues that reek of a distinctly paleoconservative tang. For instance: He now believes that swooning birth rates are a bigger threat to the human race than climate change is. Musk has carried that philosophy into his management approach, and has operated his newly purchased social network with the cloying, unserious cruelty of so many unaccountable titans of capital before him: mass layoffs, hollowing austerity measures, and yes, a willingness to frequently rub elbows with guys like Ian Miles Cheong. It is as if his sole desire is to be hated by liberals, which appears to be the only animating praxis of the entire Republican Party.

I’m not here to home in on the particulars of Musk’s politics. (I already did that, a month ago.) In fact, I’d argue that his recent redpilling is barely relevant to why his stewardship of Twitter has been so uniquely agitating. Sure, it isn’t ideal that Musk has restored the accounts of guys like Jordan Peterson, but I am not of the opinion that social media has much effect on corporeal reality. (May I reiterate one more time: the midterms!) Instead, the worst part about Musk’s Twitter tenure is that he is simply bad at posting. He was consistently one of the most oppressive presences on social media in the mid-2010s, back when he was promising to dig a tunnel from San Francisco to Los Angeles, and he’s only grown more obnoxious as he attempts to fabricate a strained MAGA pivot while he slowly loses all of his famous friends. We have handed over the Crucible of Posting to someone who has a remedial understanding of the art; honestly, that might be the impetus for his radicalization.

There’s already a lot of literature that’s been published on Musk’s shortcomings as a poster. In 2021 the New York Times went long on the frequency at which Elon pilfers memes he finds on Reddit without proper accreditation (a big no-no—just ask @FuckJerry). The underlying thesis here is that he was never able to engineer the creativity, humor, or cultural fluency necessary to become an elite tweeter, so, like innumerable struggling YouTubers and canceled podcast hosts before him, Musk has started playing to the cheap seats by taking on the woke mob in the name of free speech, which has, frankly, become the hackiest and most overplayed hand on social media.

Slate |  You are Elon Musk. You possess the not-wholly-unjustified sense that you can beat anyone in business combat. Being the richest guy in the world confers a certain steamrolling feeling that is hard to shake. Some of that vibe is even grounded in reality. For example, you can more or less use securities law as toilet paper while building up shares in Twitter and not lose a wink of sleep over it. You can hire excellent lawyers and deploy them for limitless hours against your critics and enemies. The worst day of your life is still a day in which you have more wealth than anybody else.

Some of this strength is only in your head, though. Being you has privileges and curses, and one of each is that you’re surrounded in large part by sycophants. Some of them have fancy jobs and want to do business with you. Most of them, numbering somewhere in the millions, will never meet you but will cheer you on all the while, believing there is genius in everything you do. They will believe you can browbeat an extremely well-lawyered public company into getting out of a deal that has no apparent legal out. (To be fair, Wall Street may also believe that.) When you get stuck buying that company, and things immediately get rough, you might pick a fight with the most valuable company in the history of the world. What looks like desperation to most people will look like a stroke of nine-dimensional chess to your fanbase. You could accidentally shoot yourself in the testicles with a rifle, and your most devout followers would spot a long game to start a prosthetic genital company at a $2 trillion valuation.

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