Did Elon Musk Wreck Twitter Because He's So Lonesome?
Why does Elon Musk have to be the center of everyone's attention every day? Has he no hobbies? Is running an industrial empire less than a full-time job? Perhaps he's just lonely. Perhaps social media is not filling the need for human companionship — as many a depressed adolescent can explain.
At times the richest man on the planet, Musk certainly has options. He's already done remarkable things, such as supercharge the age of the electric vehicle and send rockets into space. Yet he chooses to pick public fights that offend his customers, while having negligible effect on public policy.
There was no business reason for his buying Twitter other than wanting to control a galactic megaphone. OK. But then he destroys its usefulness by letting a sewer of disinformation mix in with the good stuff. And he attacks the valuable creators who were filling up his feed for free.
Makes no sense unless the Twitter thing is a massively expensive form of psychotherapy to treat a lonely man's need for connection.
Musk seemed to be operating under the illusion that the children could never find another place to post their short messages. Mark Zuckerberg over at Meta, home of Facebook, is showing him otherwise.
Zuck's new social media site, Threads, is now trucking Twitter's user base to its feed. Meanwhile, Twitter ad revenue in the second quarter was down about 40 percent from a year ago, and that was before the Threads launch.
As an exhausting exhibitionist, Musk has company among the Silicon Valley CEOs and tech bros in playing the contrarian game. That means uttering controversial hooey meant, it seems, to set them apart from lesser beings plodding through reality.
Not only did Musk make Twitter worthless as a source of actionable information, he turned off users and advertisers alike by shooting off his mouth. He went so far as to traffic in an antisemitic-flavored reference to George Soros. It's pathetic how unoriginal that was.
The last straw was limiting the number of posts users could read each day. "If you think about it," Ashley Mayer, a venture capitalist, tweeted, "Elon Musk is the greatest PR person of all time. He has us rooting for Meta!?!'
Unlike the other challenges to Twitter that didn't get far, Meta has managed to create an easy-to-use site, many of whose features are familiar to Twitter users. And Meta could plug Threads into its enormous Instagram following. Musk is suing Meta for allegedly stealing Twitter employees and trade secrets. Meta says that's not the case.
Psychiatrists are seeing a surge in drug addiction among financial hotshots, in part to fight off loneliness. A good number, The Wall Street Journal reports, "turn to addiction to mask the reality that achieving their goals — like launching their own fund or making $100 million — can still leave them feeling empty."
Even if they want to develop genuine friendships, the billionaires can't be sure who really likes them, who is only after their money. As for intimate relationships, Musk has had two wives, one of them twice. Now he has none.
One would expect Musk to have better things to do than pursue grudge matches with a tech writer. Sure, Kara Swisher is the dean of tech writers, but is Musk so thin-skinned as to send her an email calling her an "a—-hole"? Apparently, yes.
Funny, but Swisher used to be one of his confidants. Now even she seems to be off Musk's "friend" list, though she's getting great mileage out of his attacks on her. As for Zuckerberg's Twitter replacement, all Threads needs to do now is pick up the tweeters left shipwrecked by an evidently troubled man.
Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at email@example.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.
Reprinted with permission from Creators.