Eccentric billionaires like Elon Musk, playing with dangerous toys, are just not funny any more – Laura Waddell

Elon Musk has discovered running Twitter is not all fun and games, despite his considerable hubris going into the gig.

He told the BBC during a sit-down interview that the "pain level has been extremely high, this hasn't been some kind of party” and that he sometimes sleeps in the Twitter office from where he composes his own controversial posts that have landed him in legal trouble and sometimes been followed by sudden plunges to the stock value of his other flagship company, Tesla.

Many predicted that the running of a platform embraced by governments and media outlets the world over as an important communications tool, but overrun by prejudice, propaganda, and incessant quarrelling, would be difficult. However, it seems the world’s second richest man was determined to learn this himself, the hard way, and in his own car-crash publicity style. During the mass lay-offs, which he credits with bringing Twitter out of the red, he used his own platform to insult an employee with a disability, to whom he has since apologised.

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Nothing about the news of these chaotic, poorly handled sackings, nor Musk’s libertarian, often contrarian attitude to content moderation, makes the site more appealing to users; particularly not those who have already tired of it and moved on to less toxic communication platforms harboring fewer neo-Nazis.

What strikes me about the interview is how retrogressive this model of a chief executive is. Put aside, for a moment, the working-around-the-clock, kipping on the office sofa, work hard, play hard fetishism which is tired enough in itself. The Wolf of Wall Street was meant to be a cautionary tale. Sleeping at the office no longer sounds like something to aspire to, but something to pity; a sign that the balance is off.

But in general, amusement at eccentric billionaires has long worn off – in politics and media alike. Here is just another absurdly childish man in a position of power, playing with his dangerous toys, and echoing Trump, who in 2016 decidedly pulled back the curtain to reveal his own idiosyncratic chaos, lack of control, and rash decision-making while at the helm. Another bumbling bull in a china shop, who thinks his own opinions on how things should be will sort out complex existing problems, the lack of clue insulated by ego, money and a media channel of one’s own.



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