Elon Musk Is the Physical Embodiment of a Reddit Post

Photo: CBS

Honestly there’s not a lot to say about this. Here’s a delicious clip of Tesla CEO Elon Musk on 60 Minutes trying not to cry as he’s asked about being too impulsive and insecure to run his own Twitter account.

Nothing like a good old-fashioned clip of a guy richer than anyone reading this will ever be crying because he made a weed joke so stupid it triggered a federal enforcement mechanism. (Lesley Stahl and Musk are discussing Tesla’s recent settlement with the SEC, which required him to step down as chairman, pay a fine, and put in place some sort of mechanism to monitor what he posts online.)

This is your king? This guy? The wealthiest “redditor from the late aughts” in the world taking time away from binge-watching Rick & Morty and cracking epic bacon references to willingly go on one of the most-watched news programs in America and declare that he does not respect the SEC in the same way a 12-year-old might say they don’t respect a crosswalk signal? Him?

Why exactly do we (or maybe just I) have this fascination with watching Elon Musk’s train wreck of a life? Part of it is that he’s rich, duh, and it is very funny to watch insanely rich people who could very well just leave the spotlight forever and chill on a private island rather than burn under the glare of public scrutiny. Personally I would love to be rich and completely divorce myself from society, no offense.

Another pleasurable aspect of this is that Musk is legitimately terrible in some ways, such as how he subjected Tesla workers to unsafe and discriminatory working conditions. And so seeing that type of person cry is wild and gives me a little thrill of cheap schadenfreude.

But maybe the reason I remain fascinated with Elon is because he is literally, as I alluded to before, a rich redditor. By this, I don’t mean that he actually uses Reddit (although: maybe). I mean that the personality he presents publicly is largely shaped by the culture that Reddit spawned, a sort of digital libertarianism founded on the idea that heavy internet users are wiser than everyone else.

Musk is doing epic projects like building a cyborg dragon, or selling flamethrowers. He’s got an interest in logic and reason and reducing everything to mathematics, like when he suggested ranking journalists by trustworthiness. He also lashes out and calls people “pedos” when they criticize his ideas — the type of overreach that pseudonymous online flame wars often descend into. He thinks 420 references are funny enough to be worth the legal headache, but says he doesn’t actually smoke. He carps about the First Amendment. He’s also capable of occasionally demonstrating a notable grasp of STEM topics.

I believe Elon Musk is literally what would happen if you gave the prototypical redditor a blank check. He probably has a closet full of Threadless T-shirts. He would have been an angel investor in Reddit Island, the ill-fated attempt by a few Reddit users to buy an island and start their own sovereign nation.

And so clips like Musk on 60 Minutes are compelling to me because they are the most vibrant demonstration yet of what happens when you take the digital libertarian out of the Reddit bubble and into the real world where people like Lesley Stahl call you on your stuff. The logic that those like Musk hold so dear crumbles under scrutiny: He respects the concept of justice, but not the body doling it out, the SEC? His supposedly market-moving tweets don’t need to be reviewed by anyone else, unless they’re definitely going to move the market?

And through it all he is so close to crying. Despite the fact that he doesn’t need to subject himself to any of this really. The smartest guy in the chat room just can’t convince himself to log out, even when he’s literally logged out.

Elon Musk Is the Physical Embodiment of a Reddit Post