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Elon Musk: The Cult of the Celebrity Savior Is Cracking

George J. Ziogas
Daniel Oberhaus /Wikimedia Commons

It doesn’t matter how many times we get burned, there’s just something about humans that leads us into hero worship. Whether it’s an inspirational person in your life, a fiery politician making their name trying to make a positive change, or an innovator who claims they will use their billions to save the world. You would be forgiven for choosing a hero to admire.

It’s something that we all do and just like every other time, we always end up disappointed when we realize that the hero is, in fact, human. You would also be forgiven for missing out on all the latest news with every hero the world worships because there is so much going on in the world. It’s almost impossible to keep up with everything.

Therefore, I would forgive you for missing out on all of Elon Musk’s foibles. There’s a lot to cover and the first sign of him being an incredibly flawed human was his first wife’s article about the breakdown of their marriage. In it, she detailed years of emotional abuse at his hands.

Musk, The Human

His most recent mistakes include a long stream of Twitter spats. Here’s the thing. If you take to social media to make a negative comment about Musk, you will be almost immediately inundated with Musk lovers willing to defend him for days on end.

But there are plenty of people who think Musk is an innovator and a wonderful leader. They don’t pay attention to what else is going on beyond the positive headlines he generates. A quick internet search will highlight all of the negative stories he has generated that don’t get much attention beyond the social media circle.

There is no arguing that Musk is an intelligent man with business savvy. However, it’s just as important to highlight that his father was profoundly wealthy and he had the best of everything money could buy.

Errol Musk himself was quoted in Rolling Stone as saying he was “making money in the often dangerous worlds of construction and emerald mining.” Though Elon continues to deny his father ever owned the mine, he was clearly involved in that industry.

What happened next is up for debate, but Musk left South Africa for Canada at 17 and seemed to strike out on his own. He didn’t start life on third base, he started it on home base, already having hit a grand slam.

It was because of that start in life that, like Steve Jobs, he was able to spend time with computers. On the flip side, he was often bullied as a child. He didn’t experience bullying only at the hands of other children. His father was also a bully, mentally abusing his children.

People are complicated.

In business, Musk made his way, along with his brother, to Palo Alto to start their first business. They created Zip2, which was basically MapQuest or Google Maps before either of those things existed. Compaq purchased it a few years later for over $300 million.

Ten years later he had a reputation as one of those rich Silicon Valley jerks from tooling around the area in a McLaren, one of just 62 made. You could forgive him that purchase, considering the majority of his newfound wealth was being poured into his next venture. He is credited for PayPal, but his business was and it was overtaking PayPal which resulted in a merger with the Peter Thiel owned business.

Musk simply became the largest shareholder after the merger. He was never the CEO, even after the merger, he was forced out before he got the chance. eBay later purchased it for $1.5 billion which netted Musk a further $250 million.

Musk, The Innovator

Musk had a brush with death after contracting malaria. It was that brush with death that sparked his renewed interest in making it to Mars. His initial idea was to purchase a rocket, but due to the exorbitant prices, he decided to research how to build one instead. Thus, SpaceX came to fruition. Their first successful manned launch occurred in May 2020.

Tesla was next, but it wasn’t his idea. He was approached with an investment opportunity and he was all in. The first workable car was shown off at a major press event and there were 30 pre-orders for the $90,000 car. Musk, however, was furious as he hadn’t been listed as a founder or mentioned in the New York Times article that came after.

When fulfilling the first batch of pre-orders, they were running into trouble. They were behind schedule and the parts were just far too expensive. So, Musk plotted a coup and had himself installed as interim CEO, knocking the founder off his perch.

Musk, The Hero

Elon Musk is not a hero. He is not to be worshipped and he is certainly not coming to save you. Elon Musk is a man. A mere human. He just happens to be filthy rich. For some reason, America in particular has this idea that rich people are more intelligent than everyone else. They are harder workers. The reality is anything but. Sometimes, rich people are rich because they are ruthless and they don’t mind stepping on the backs of other people to get to where they want to go. You can argue the morality of it, but that’s the reality.

Musk is a shrewd businessman. He is not your hero. Musk has billions of dollars. There are so many ways in which he could use that money wisely. He will never spend it all, so he could invest in communities, he could invest in activities that would help people.

Instead, he has chosen to put his money into the dream of going to Mars. It’s an uninhabitable planet and even if it wasn’t, the only people who could afford a ticket would be filthy rich people like Richard Branson and Mark Zuckerberg. If it were inhabitable, it would simply be a retreat for the ultra-rich… which is what the world is quickly becoming as is.

That is how Musk chooses to use his wealth, to pursue a nonsense dream that has no real positive impact on humanity. Of course, there are plenty of people who think it’s incredible, but they’re wrong. Elon Musk isn’t interested in saving humanity, even if he tries to sell the idea that he is. What he is doing is living his best life, as an incredibly rich guy.

Musk, The Fallen Hero

Much of what has been said about Musk being an unbearable jerk is he said/she said, but obviously, there are enough of these stories to suggest there is no smoke without fire. However, one of the most recent moments that really highlighted how human Musk is and how he isn’t the savior the world needs was his social media comments regarding COVID-19.

In March of 2020, he was quick to say it was overblown. He tweeted to “FREE AMERICA NOW” celebrating Texas’ laid back approach to preventing the spread of the virus. He called lockdown rules fascist. And, most notably he said that America would have next to zero new cases by the end of April. At that point, America had over 30,000 new cases daily.

That is hardly the humanity-saving billionaire his fans and supporters have been talking about. Of course, there was also the time he called a British diver a pedophile after the man saved the soccer-playing children in a Thai cave. All because the man said Musk’s plan wasn’t workable. He also claimed the share prices of his company Tesla were too high.

He called a British epidemiologist a tool and named his child X Æ A-12… unpronounceable nonsense. He reached a point of social media activity that had his musician partner Grimes responding in an attempt to correct him. Oh, to be a fly on their shared walls.

The point is, that Elon Musk isn’t coming to save you because Elon Musk is a rich man who is more obsessed with making himself look amazing. He isn’t particularly interested in the opinions of others. He, like so many other successful people, has bought his own hype.

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