Daily Bread for 11.20.22: On Musk’s Multiple Misunderstandings and Mistakes

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of 26. Sunrise is 6:54 AM and sunset 4:27 PM for 9h 33m 11s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 13.3% of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1820, an 80-ton sperm whale attacks and sinks the Essex (a whaling ship from Nantucket, Massachusetts) 2,000 miles from the western coast of South America. (Herman Melville’s 1851 novel Moby-Dick was in part inspired by this incident.)

An associate professor of physics (specializing in optical science) at UNC Charlotte, writing on Twitter with the username @drskyskull, summarizes nicely Elon Musk’s mistakes & misunderstanding about Twitter. Although Musk may have purchased Twitter (with considerable debt, basically OPM), buying something does assure the understanding of a thing. (If it were otherwise, there would be no concept of buyer’s remorse, for example.) 

Here’s his thread assessing Musk’s multiple misunderstandings and mistakes

So here’s my hypothesis on the whole Musk twitter deal. 1/

Dude LOVES Twitter. As a narcissist, he can’t get enough of the adulation of the right-wing mouth-breathers. But Twitter keeps banning the people he loves, so he becomes convinced that Twitter is a liberal SJW organization. 2/

He decides to teach them a lesson, and make an offer to buy the company. Absolutely convinced that it is a left-wing political site, he’s sure they’ll refuse his offer, even a ridiculously good offer. Then he can say “aha! they’re so woke!” and his fans will cheer. 3/

But Twitter is actually governed by businesspeople who see his offer as absurdly high, and they jump at it. Musk freaks out, tries to get out of the deal, but he’s already locked in solidly. 4/

Now his Dunning-Kruger kicks in to protect him from his panic, and he says, “heck, it’s not that hard to run this site; I’ll turn it around right quick!” He’s not completely stupid, so he cons investors into going in with him. 5/

Dude has fundamentally never understood how Twitter works, and what it takes to make Twitter work. To him, it’s a company filled with a bunch of lefties who just sit around censoring everyone. He can dump that dead weight and everything will run fine. 6/

He goes into it with the same bluster that he used to boost his car and space companies: act like the genius “disruptor” that can fix anything. But those companies are not ad-based, and advertisers immediately become spooked by his approach. 7/

He is utterly baffled; don’t they see how he’s going to make Twitter better than ever before? He fundamentally doesn’t understand how much effort Twitter put into protecting brands. He’s high on his own supply of “free speech,” which he also doesn’t understand. 8/

He clearly thinks that the value of twitter is entirely in the number of users. That is important, but the *quality* of users matters, too, which he doesn’t get. He starts his ill-advised (stupid) change to the blue check system. 9/

With the blue checks, again he’s high on his own supply. He see the check as a status symbol (which it is), but thinks that he can sell that status, which he can’t. People are verified because users need to be able to separate real people from scams. 10/

Elon also thinks that everyone is just as addicted to Twitter as he is. He’s a narcissist; he NEEDS Twitter just like Trump needed it. But relatively few people are that addicted to the site, and the real blue checks know that they *bring* value to the site. 11/

So more advisors leave. Elon is desperate to turn things around quickly, so he just throws shit at the wall to see what sticks. Nothing does, because he has no concept of how actual human beings experience reality. 12/

I think he’s in a panic state, because he *knows* that his mystique is evaporating quickly. He’s the golden boy who had “made 3 companies worth a billion dollars.” He can’t afford, mentally, to be seen as the guy holding the company losing a billion a year. 13/

He probably can’t financially, either, which has got to be intense pressure on his psyche. He keeps trying to turn things around by doing things exactly like he does at Tesla and SpaceX: he’s got a hammer, Twitter is the nail. 14/

But Twitter’s corporate culture is very different from those other companies, so most people aren’t interested in his appeals to going “hardcore.” And his immediate layoffs trigger company-wide resentment, which means almost everyone is ready to bail. 15/

He assumes that he can make things so shitty for workers that only the best, “hardcore” workers will remain. But pretty much the opposite is true: the best workers can jump somewhere else instantly. So his plan backfires 100%. 16/

Now, he’s left with a company with no advertisers, massive debt, and a toxic work environment that will struggle to find new employees. Institutional knowledge has walked out the door. 17/

Overall? I think he is a victim of being a legend in his own mind. He felt he understood twitter well enough that they would never sell. They did. Then he thought he understood it well enough to slash it in half to improve efficiency. He didn’t. 18/

He thought he could appeal to some sort of macho tough guy work ethic that he probably has never experienced himself. He probably sleeps in his office, but he probably has a very comfy bed in it. 19/

To summarize: he thought that Twitter was run by a bunch of left-wingers, who were therefore inferior to him. He was wrong on both counts, and now he’s stuck with a company that may not function at all within days. END

None of this means that Twitter will go under (outages notwithstanding); best guess is that it will remain dysfunctional as long as Musk owns it. If something else compelling comes along, then Twitter will decline as MySpace did. MySpace is still around, but no one cares. The local analog in Whitewater would be the Whitewater Register: living but irretrievably comatose.

Not many people in Whitewater use Twitter, but all people in all places are vulnerable to hubris. In this way, Twitter’s troubles are cautionary for anyone, anywhere. 

Meanwhile, the stock price of Tesla year-to-date:

(Of the post title, “On Musk’s Multiple Misunderstandings and Mistakes” and mention of “Twitter’s troubles”: apologies to my high school English teacher, Mrs. Pearlberger, for the overuse of alliteration.) 

Why coral reefs are so important: underwater in Egypt:

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The Phantom Stranger
1 year ago
  • Best analysis yet, I’ve read of Twitter’s existence and future! I’m one of the few Whitewater WI users, I guess. “Never Facebook!”
  • =The Phantom Stranger