Commentary: The midlife crises of Twitter and Elon Musk finally meet, and then it’s too late
There were moments in the summer of 2018 when I started to wonder if the midlife crises of Elon Musk and Twitter would intersect — the first time the two, which have become increasingly frenzied with one another over the past year, came face-to-face. The fact that Musk ended a series of Twitter fights with The New York Times by tweeting that “The Internet will be around till I die,” and that his next self-driving car, the Boring Company, will be electric, was one of them. A second was the announcement — via Twitter — that he would be setting up “Cyberpunk factory” in New Jersey.
The fact that Musk had just sent his engineers to work on a new Boring Company, the biggest in the world so far, when the Tesla factory in Fremont, California was being retrofitted to make the Model 3, which Musk himself had promised would be “done in a week,” was another.
On the evening of Sept. 22, as one Twitter user was lamenting the fact that he and his wife hadn’t yet moved into a “luxurious” New York City apartment in the weeks since the election for fear of making even greater enemies, Musk fired off a tweet in his native language, Indonesian, that said, “Djokja.” His message was soon picked up by Indonesia’s president, Joko Widodo. “Let’s help each other out a little bit this morning,” Musk said in a video message he later posted on Twitter. “This morning, it’s just a matter of waking up a bit more in the morning.”
The tweets that followed were many; a week later, the Boring Company was open with a sign in English at its headquarters that said, “We want to build a world without cars.”
It is impossible to tell where Musk’s tweets, and the Boring Company’s, ultimately went. But they left their mark.
What came next was a midlife crisis of Twitter, as Musk and his company took off. For a company that has struggled to find its footing and become a global phenomenon, it has transformed the digital landscape and had its stock soar up to 400 percent over the past year.