So… apparently there’s been another kerfuffle on Twitter about some asinine things that a certain wealthy, rocket-building, payment-revolutionizing, electric vehicle company-creating entrepreneur has written in tweets to millions of followers.
This billionaire is, by all accounts, incredibly difficult to work for, very visionary and… a bit thin-skinned for someone with such a habit of courting press.
I’m not saying that’s his fault. He’s been shredded by hundreds of people in thousands of messages on a platform that’s given him millions of (fake and) real followers and a megaphone that would be powerful enough to change the world (or at least the world’s coverage of him) with a single bloviating bit of textual hot air.
And boy, as a billionaire entrepreneur, does this fella blow the hot air.
Wait… I am saying some of this is his fault.
That said, he’s done some truly amazing things for the world. AND IS A BILLIONAIRE.
With that in mind, here’re a few humble suggestions for him to keep in mind as he approaches the touchpad, keyboard or any other tweet-enabling appliance as he looks to foray further into the wild feathered world of the Twitter-birds.
THINGS THAT ARE OKAY TO TWEET
- Tweeting about offers to help people in dire need of help. Listen, I know you got a lot of heat for this one, and it was ultimately an unnecessary gesture that some folks chalked up to a cynical attempt to change the subject, but I believe that your heart was in the right place. People love John Henry stories — especially now when technology threatens to overwhelm all of us. So this bit of ingenuity that you and your team concocted wound up as an actual embodiment of an old folktale? So what? Humans can win without machines. This is a good thing. Embrace it. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have offered to help. Or that people should dismiss that offer as ridiculous.
- Tweeting about phenomenal things your companies have managed to achieve in the world. It’s a jaded world, so people dismiss a lot of things that they shouldn’t, but landing parts of a rocket successfully for re-use is a goddamn miracle of science. It’s wonderful. Literally an achievement that has the potential to advance humanity… and even if a better solution comes along, you’ve proven naysayers wrong and pushed the bounds of the possible. Go you.
- Tweeting about political and social issues you feel passionate about. You’re a — fairly — beloved billionaire (which is kind of a weird thing to write) with a platform that has millions of followers. If you think a certain way about a certain thing it’s your right to express it and your privilege to do so on a platform where people care what you have to say.
- Challenging the substance of arguments and criticisms that are leveled against you and your initiatives by people. It’s a marketplace of ideas and you’ve been able to buy a lot of privilege and respect because you have BILLIONS OF DOLLARS and millions of people in our country and world respect the bank account. But it’s still a marketplace of ideas where you are more than capable of competing without having to rely on knee-jerk responses from [real or imagined] followers or ad hominem attacks on the folks who disagree with you.
- Tweeting in support of punching Nazis. Legit always cool. Maybe just do it once a day to see how people respond? It’s always okay to punch Nazis.
THINGS THAT ARE NOT OKAY TO TWEET
- Ad hominem attacks against people who criticize, disagree or denigrate you. (You legit called someone who just helped save 12 boys in one of the most awesome examples of human endurance and resilience a pedophile… and then doubled down on it. That’s just fucked up. Maybe time to rethink how you’re using Twitter.)
- Ad hominem attacks against reporters who write negative (and seemingly factually correct) articles about your companies. Going after journalists — especially women journalists — with a rabid following of tech fan boys who have no problem doxxing, verbally assaulting or threatening people on Twitter seems a bit irresponsible. You know your power… and you’re a nerd… so you should know with great power comes great responsibility — and not just in a messianic, cynical I’m-going-to-save-humanity-from-itself Harry Seldon kind of way.
- Ad hominem attacks against company executives that you’re competing against. Okay… sometimes this is great. And you’re really funny, so that works for you. And to be honest, at least you’re not punching down. But maybe there’s enough toxicity in the world already that we can actually just start championing folks who’re trying to do radical things… technologically feasible, provable and disclosable radical things. Ain’t nobody want to cheer on Theranos.
- Lying or obfuscating when you’re caught out for things you’ve actually done. Own up to it and explain it.
- Rick rolls and the word “lit.”. This should go without saying.
Fella, you’re an incredibly powerful person with a significant, and rabid, following on a platform that isn’t known for rewarding perspicacity and reason (maybe using your platform you can change that?).
Typically, these days, you’ve been uniting more people in anger than you have behind your good intentions. As a public figure with an aggressive following, maybe work on increasing the peace?
There’s already one bloviating, egomaniacal, too-powerful, sycophant-encouraging, id and idiocy-inducing jerkface on Twitter. Let them keep that particular throne and maybe you keep the toxicity to yourself?