Someone the other day called Elon Musk both an “inventor” and “a badass” but he is neither.
Let me say flat-out, upfront, and clearly it’s good that Musk — entrepreneur behind the Tesla carmaker, companies involved in solar power and space exploration, and who was previously part of PayPal — is alive. We need people like him if only so the 99% of the world who submit regularly to the status quo have some dreamers to gaze at in wonder.
Ideally they’d do more.
Think Different maybe.
Perhaps even live like it.
So far as I know Musk hasn’t invented anything. Perhaps he holds patents but I’ve not see that mentioned. He’s an entrepreneur … so stretch the word on the rack … call an entrepreneur the inventor of a company … but why?
We already have a word for those.
Musk isn’t badass either. That’s a more subjective designation but is our badass bar so low that P.T. Barnum qualifies? What we have from him so far is the tell part of show & tell — or show, as in tell. There’s no evidence yet.
The “it ain’t braggin’ if you can do it” isn’t as true as “if you can do it you don’t have to brag.” To make matters a bit worse for the badass inventor title, Musk hasn’t actually shown he can do it.
- The companies aren’t profitable,
- relying heavily on government money,
- and the spaceships keep, well … blowing up.
Once more: Elon Musk out there shilling is an objective good.
It’s only hucksterism if he fails but we don’t know yet. So about Musk, these three:
- He’s neither an inventor,
- nor is he quite badass,
- so stop idolizing him.
I hope he’d agree. The best creative is one who also wants others to be, whatever shape it takes — “even” just fully realizing their own selves instead of defining it based on his.
He’s not as into himself as everyone else is.
This is often not the case. An idol himself often loves being on the pedestal just as those bowing to it are content to not-live vicariously through the statue they’ve erected.
That monument-building is about the only work the masses are ever going to do — until there is failure, as commonly there is, and the same mob lassoes the statue and melts it down, so it can put another up in its place.
An irony of our oft-vaunted and supposedly uber-democratic American world is how 330 million independent thinkers keep elevating the visionary and different to where they get a pass.
The visionary gets a pass and becomes a god without much actual accomplishment and those elevating him get a pass and remain where they are.
It’s all so neat and easy.
So what we get on Musk is material that comes from one kind of meme-hole and disappears into the other kind, asserting, for instance, that he got $180 million from his share of PayPal, when it sold, and put all of it into his companies — which, if true would mean
- He paid no taxes,
- and was literally broke,
- relying on handouts even then.
Surely he had a little bit socked away? This isn’t to deny his commercial success with PayPal — the evidence for that is there. It isn’t to say he’s not committed to his ideas and acting on them, tying current rewards (which measure in the billions of dollars) to sales targets and whatnot.
Good on him.
But this hero-worship of people who aren’t heroes in the way they’re being worshipped needs to stop. I saw a collection of quotations from Musk that barely reached the level of rumination by your average 15-year-old who has just smoked his first weed. Must be gospel though, since he made $180 million on PayPal.
(As with Donald Trump we wouldn’t care one bit about such verbalizing if not for the money.)
It’s good that Elon Musk lives and breathes and speaks.
May his actions — and his tribe — increase.