Mauren: The hubris of Elon Musk


Courtesy of Daniel Oberhaus via Flickr

Columnist Jacob Mauren pins down what makes Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, so unlikeable in his eyes. 

Jacob Mauren

Elon Musk annoys me. But I have struggled to figure out exactly why. Yes, he is extremely rich, but I don’t find myself in a noticeably worse mood when Bill Gates or Warren Buffett are brought up. Though I think I have now finally narrowed down the cause: it is Musk’s fanatic following and his own hubris that truly get on my nerves. 

I was a fan myself back in high school. When I was just an underclassman, I probably called Elon the real-life Tony Stark. Tesla was building the cars of the future, SpaceX was going to put a colony on Mars and Hyperloop was going to make mass transportation cool again. Pair that innovation with some of his weed and sixty-nine jokes, and he had himself a devoted fan base of (not exclusively) young men.

But as I got older, the magic started to wear off. I began to realize that building a billion electric cars was not going to suddenly solve the climate crisis; it was just going to sell a billion cars. They were just a car manufacturer making money. And Hyperloop slowly faded away until we ended up with the Boring Tunnel under Las Vegas; it sucked. What was supposed to be pods flying between cities near the speed of sound had been widdled down to Teslas shuttling people through narrow tunnels at the same speed as normal roads. He had “invented” a worse subway system.  

Though, to be fair, SpaceX does continue to impress. The NASA fan in me can’t find hate for rocketships. 

As this reality check began to set in, his fanbase seemed to grow in size and intensity at the same pace as his fortune. Any criticism of Musk was met with a fierce defense and deflection from a swarm of admirers. For many, Elon quickly became a figure who could do no wrong, and he seemed to savor it all. 

This peaked in the spring of 2021. Among the obvious happenings of that time, crypto markets started to go nuts. Among many holdings, Dogecoin became an unlikely star thanks to the publicity from Musk. Cryptic tweets and directions from Elon sent his fans scrambling to buy until it peaked at 57 cents and proceeded to tumble 60 percent down. When his stardom and antics started screwing people out of their money, that is when Elon really lost me.

So now I get to read about Elon’s new title, savior of free speech! With the $44 billion that he was able to scrounge together in just a month, Musk will defend our First Amendment right to be protected from a private platform’s user policies. 

I no longer view Elon Musk as Iron Man. In my mind, I can only see him as the world’s richest guy that is looking to get richer and become famous in the meantime. He has all he wants and now is going to make sure we know about it.