Genius is in the Eye of the Beholder
by Meghan Mitchell '23
Elon Musk in recent years has become a very controversial figure in the public eye. Being the CEO of Tesla, SpaceX, and other companies, the man was hailed in the media as the real-life equivalent of Marvel’s Tony Stark. However, after a series of questionable business decisions, public opinion seems to be shifting to the fact that maybe, just maybe, Musk is not as intelligent as the media initially portrayed him to be. While it is true that Musk created Tesla, that does not mean he is a genius. Just because someone had a good idea and got lucky does not mean they are intelligent.
Even then, he isn’t the one who founded Tesla; Martin Eberhard was. Musk bought a stake in the company and allegedly kicked Eberhard out and took credit for his idea. SpaceX is funded and contracted by the government, so his involvement in the company isn’t as vital as people are led to believe.
Musk’s most recent questionable decision is his acquisition of Twitter. Once the company was in his possession, Musk proceeded to lay off most of the staff in order to save money. The problem with this decision is that he laid off so many people, the site started to suffer from outages and other issues. He ended up having to ask people to come back, saying they were “laid off by mistake.” Furthermore, according to The Guardian, more than 30 million users are expected to leave Twitter due to concerns relating to technical issues the platform has been experiencing since Musk’s ownership of the platform began and his slack stance on potentially offensive and harmful content.
To gain revenue from his purchase, Musk changed verification on the platform, so users now have to pay for it. Originally the price was $20 before it was lowered to $8, because nobody was willing to pay that much for a blue checkmark. This decision to have users pay to be verified was quickly abused by internet trolls who would masquerade as public figures or companies. One internet troll pretended to be a pharmaceutical company and tweeted that insulin was now free, causing the company’s stocks to plummet by 10 percent and costing them millions in revenue. This caused many companies to also pull back from Twitter, no longer trusting the website to host their ads and thus causing Twitter to lose ad revenue.
Going back even further, Musk’s lack of common sense was broadcasted to the world through his Twitter account during the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only in March 2020 did he call people who were worried about COVID-19 “dumb”, but he also spread false information about there being “quite a few negative reactions” from people who received a second COVID-19 booster. In addition, his false accusations about the COVID-19 boosters could cause serious damage, because he has great influence over his followers on social media. Musk has made countless other mistakes online, and has shown himself to not be a very good person to boot, but this piece isn’t about judging the morality of his character. This is about letting others know that he is not the genius he embodies in his public persona. When will the world realize that Elon Musk is not the real-life version of Tony Stark? Because in actuality, he’s just pretending to be.