Are celebrities really leaving Elon Musk’s Twitter? Some are, but others vow to stay
We’re a few weeks into 2017, and Elon Musk is already under fire for a Twitter spat that ended with him cancelling a high-profile event. But the Tesla CEO is a bit of a pariah in the social media world, and his antics are a bit of a problem.
This much is certain: The Twitter spat was painful, and it looks like it was an accident. When the original reports of the Twitter spat broke, there was an immediate reaction. Musk apologized and promised to explain. The question of what he really meant to do with his apology was discussed, and for the most part that reaction has been more constructive than the original reaction to the original story.
Yet the real issue seems to be how we interpret it. The backlash to the original incident began on Reddit and Twitter, drawing hundreds of thousands of angry responses. The ensuing backlash on Twitter was also a reflection of the online world; one in which a company CEO or public figure can be an asshole, and still expect to get away with it. It was like a real-life test of the “no-hitter” fallacy.
While the online debate was more civil than the original argument in the Twittersphere, it did provide evidence of the damage done by Musk’s actions: The incident illustrated the degree to which social media is a virtual echo chamber that amplifies only the loudest of voices. It was also an illustration of the “Twitter vs. everything else” narrative that has been propagated by Musk and his defenders. Musk gets accused of having something of a Twitter problem, but of course he doesn’t.
The controversy also illustrated something else: There is a disconnect between the business world and social media where a tweet is more public and visible and more newsworthy than an actual human interaction. The real-world consequences are that an important interaction ends prematurely, whether the person actually said something or no longer exists. The social media version would be a tweet that vanished without a trace, and you wouldn’t find it on the social media radar screen.
There are two sides to this argument — each person will have their own thoughts on why Musk’s apology lacked real sincerity, but there’s