Today I was entertained by no end by a little saga going on over on Twitter. Yes, you can say this whole segment that I’m about to write is in direct contradiction to the post that I’ve made previously criticising the human need to find entertainment from other’s suffering. But, and it’s a big butt: I’m also a fan of justice and not just any kind, specifically poetic justice with comedy that Armando Iannucci would struggle to come up with on his own.
I’m not a fan of social media at the best of times but there seems to be such delicious irony that one of the world’s richest and most identifiable individuals who uses Twitter as a staging ground for open ideological warfare has suddenly come to the realisation that people have been telling him and others like him for years. Perhaps that’s the lesson, no? We cannot ultimately teach someone anything effectively until they face the greatest teacher of all: a mistake.
For those who are not aware of this drama, Elon Musk engaged in a public dispute with an employee about job performance, during which the employee was notified by HR that he had been fired. As it turned out, the employee in question was hired as part of a contract in the purchasing of a company that was originally owned by that employee. Mr Musk then changed his mind about the firing as shown above in the linked tweet. I’m not going to speculate on what kind of legal and financial ramifications were happening behind the scenes but I think it’s worth pointing out how this situation could have been avoided entirely.
“Accept humbly, let go easily.” – Meditations 8.33
Perhaps then we can argue that the negative public perception of Elon Musk outside of his core fan base is wrong in itself. Of course, we can find things detestable about a person’s character based on the simple dynamics of virtue and vices but what are vices but demonstrations of lessons to be learned? I for one, think that a lesson was learned here – or rather I hope it was. I’m not above harbouring negative feelings towards people, it’s human nature to react instinctively to all kinds of threats whether they are physical or philosophical. In 2023, billions of us across the globe have access to social media platforms where we can respond immediately on instinct to such threats without much thought. We would hope that the new CEO of one of the world’s biggest would take a little more care about giving into those instincts but why would we hold anyone to a higher standard of self-control or moral responsibility due to the size of the bank account? History tells us that morality and judgement rarely go hand-in-hand with extreme wealth so why would we expect otherwise now?
Ultimately, the mistake and reflection of the mistake will be the only way forward for everyone. Anyone who’s ever made a silly post on Facebook that they regret or written a poorly thought out, two-hundred character rant about Love Island that has the slight flavour of implied sexism, will eventually have to deal with and learn from the consequences of impulse. This, of course, extends far beyond the digital confines of social media, just ask Cain after he bashed in Abel’s skull. Never before in human history has one badly thought out response or opinion been able to reach and be seen by so many, and in turn, effect so many. I suppose that’s why we have age-restrictions on social media (as useless as they are) to at least keep up the appearance that young people will have a chance to develop some sense of self-control before being bestowed the power of connecting with the world.
In the end, I’m not sure if Mr Musk will learn from this situation and excise a little more self-control or at least develop that faculty before engaging in high level business in such a potentially destructive way. I like to think that maybe there will be but it was my favourite Roman emperor who said: teach or tolerate. If consequences won’t do, I suppose I’ll have to be contented to watch – like the passive media consumer that I am from the sidelines -, tolerating and having a giggle at the comedy.
I’m not unhappy with that outcome, popcorn is my favourite snack.