Elon Musk is not that great

Kevin Leon

kleon@ursinus.edu

     I first heard of Elon Musk back when his automotive company, Tesla, had only released a strange all-electric roadster. That car brought him praise, which led me to discover he also co-founded PayPal. Since then, his side company SpaceX has pushed the boundaries of private space-flight. Tesla has rolled out different– and better– all electric vehicles while creating a network of recharge stations to catch up to the convenience of gasoline cars. 

     All of these feats led to “Buzzfeed” calling Musk a “real life Tony Stark” in 2013. Tony Stark is the billionaire genius who doubles as Iron Man in the Marvel comics. The comparison was made because they are both rich guys who love technology. But now, in 2018, I think it’s time people get over their infatuation with him and see he’s just another hotheaded billionaire. 

     Twitter has offered people a window into the inner machinations of Elon Musk’s mind. He used the platform to complain about city traffic before announcing his underground tunneling project, The Boring Company. He has also used it to publicly lash out at people for questioning his intentions. 

     In July 2018, Musk designed a submarine to aid the rescue efforts of children trapped in a flooded cave in Thailand. Vern Unsworth, a scuba diver who was working on rescuing the trapped children, rejected the offer. He claimed the submarine was a publicity stunt that had “absolutely no chance of working.” Musk took offense to Unsworth’s comments  and baselessly called him a “pedo” in a tweet. He did later apologize and admitted that the comment crossed a line, but that happened after doubling down on his initial claim and tweeting, “bet ya a signed dollar it’s true.”

     In May 2018, he lashed out about the media labelling him a billionaire, even though that’s what he is. He claimed the media uses that label to “devalue and denigrate the subject.” He then suggested starting a different media company that focuses on telling the objective truth, which furthers the notion of “fake news” that’s already affecting the country.

     It’s common for Twitter users to complain about how the website negatively impacts their mental state. Musk does not have to be on Twitter. He’s rich. There are plenty of things he can do to occupy his time instead of having repeated, public meltdowns. He needs to learn when to log off. 

     In September 2018, Musk joined podcaster Joe Rogan on his podcast, “The Joe Rogan Experience.” On the show, he made points about the need to stop burning fossil fuels due to the detrimental impact it’s having on the environment. But that moment was overshadowed when he smoked weed on camera. 

     There is no inherent problem with smoking weed. The episode was filmed in California, where marijuana is legal for recreational use. The problem is that Musk faces no repercussions for it– ironic considering that employees at the Tesla factory are subjected to drug tests, and would be punished if they failed. It’s another glimpse at how those at the top get to partake in things people at the bottom can’t. The wealthy don’t get drug tested as often as the working class. 

     Elon Musk is praised for his liberal stances. People love that Tesla lets people stop emmitting greenhouse gasses while commuting. People are enthralled by SpaceX becasue it’s making the dream of manned-flight to Mars possible. Even The Boring Company’s novelty flamethrower captured people’s attention.

     There’s no denying that his companies do some interesting things. But Elon Musk himself is only a small part of them. He can envision large projects, but it’s all the engineers, scientists, and factory workers that make those visions reality. They are the ones who deserve the praise. Not Musk. 

     It’s been a wild year for Elon Musk and those adjacent to him. Maybe “Buzzfeed” was right. Elon Musk might be the real life Tony Stark. After all, what people forget about Stark is that, while he is a genius, he’s still an asshole. 

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