Last thing you see before the Twitter servers crash
Well folks, it’s been a heck of a few months for Elon Musk’s Twitter.
February 2020 PC (Pre-Covid):
- Tesla is flying high
- Lefties love Elon for spearheading the clean energy revolution
- Righties hate him as their Exxon stocks get pulverized by cars that don’t pollute
Whoa … the stock is so high lol
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 23, 2019
May 2020 MC (Mid-Covid):
- Tesla remains shut down weeks after GM, Ford, and other ICE automakers are back in production
- Elon doesn’t like this
- Elon voices displeasure on Joe Rogan, company emails, and most importantly, Twitter
FREE AMERICA NOW
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 29, 2020
Then, on May 18th, he posted this–and all hell broke loose.
Take the red pill ????
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 17, 2020
- Literally just a nerdy Matrix reference with zero political intention?
- A playful poo toss into the fan of the world wide web, for pure amusement?
- An actual political statement?
Your guess is as good as mine, but regardless, it’s resulted in an outpouring of love from the right, and disgust from the left.
Now let’s get one thing abundantly clear: there’s a 99.9% chance this was just one of Elon’s millions of nerdy tweets about nerdy movies he likes. If there’s any meaning beyond Matrix fandom, it’s almost certain to be philosophical above political.
This whole red pill thing… anyone who has followed Elon for more than 5 mins would know this was far more likely to be philosophical than political, especially those of us who have an inkling of Elon’s politics. As usual, it all gets blown way out of proportion 💁♂️
— Sam (@SamTalksTesla) May 19, 2020
But of course, humans will be humans, and this molehill has been pumped into a mountain with a life of its own.
So screw it! Let’s play ball.
Yes, when the hordes of MAGA hats flowed into Elon’s comment section to collectively extrapolate a Matrix meme into a political message, my first reaction was the same as many: cringe.
I, like millions of others, joined the ranks of Tesla fanboys years ago in great part to its firm stance on crushing the cycle of pollution and environmental destruction in the name of propping up an oil-addicted economy (something the right-wing, especially the Trump administration, has been advancing since the beginning).
So yeah, I can understand why many people are feeling a bit confused in the commotion. But I’d like to invite everyone to take a deep breath, step back, and look at things from a very different angle.
Here’s why I believe the latest developments on Elon Musk’s Twitter may be an ingeniously-calculated step forward for the clean energy movement.
First, let’s take a quick look under the hood on what’s got people so salty:
People Crave a Clear-Cut Bad Guys vs. Good Guys Story
Humans like having a GOOD side to support, and a BAD side to hate–it’s our nature. When these lines between good and evil are blurred, it makes people uncomfortable.
Anger is the strongest emotion humans have, and despite it being an unpleasant feeling, it’s a core piece of many people’s identity. And what’s required in order to feel anger? A target. A person or group that you can wholeheartedly despise with every fiber of your being, without any inconvenient asterisks to distract you from your pointed rage.
Any admission that there is a single SPECK of redeeming qualities in this rage target is snuffed at all costs, because that would throw a wrench into your clear-cut mission of destroying them. Remind me the last time a Democrat gave kudos to Trump, or a Republican to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. It just doesn’t happen.
In the Tesla context
Many of Elon’s biggest fans hold a deep-seated hatred toward Trump and his followers, and as for good reason: the sustainability movement is in many ways a rebellion to everything Donald Trump and his administration stand for.
Now, as this years-long target of Team Clean Energy’s anger (MAGA Gang) suddenly piles onto the Elon bandwagon at the tap of a “Tweet” button, they’re losing their damn minds.
The Bigger Picture
I understand why people are angry, but there are some completely disregarded factors in this story that must be acknowledged.
I believe this will be remembered as a painful but historic turning point in the overall fight for sustainable energy, and here’s why:
For years, we’ve seen how much of a slog it is to convince traditional Republicans to transition the transportation industry away from fossil fuels and onto electric vehicles.
- Renewable energy-powered
- Cooler looking
- Cheaper to own
- Literally drive their damn selves
Mass adoption is STILL being heavily resisted by the red half of the USA. WHY?
It starts at the very top. Here are the top 20 recipients of Big Coal lobbying money in 2020:
See any patterns?
I don’t care if you’re left, right, up, or down–you can’t argue that the GOP has been in bed with the fossil fuel industry for decades. This creates an incentive for these right-winged leader to indoctrinate their most loyal followers with a stealthy dose of anti-EV narratives, so they can keep the gravy train rolling for their oil donors, (and therefore their political careers).
The question is, what will it take for them to change their ways?
Now I know it’s a stretch, but play along with me here…
After years of Teslas being synonymous with upper-middle-class hippie moms, could you imagine:
What if a 4-word Matrix tweet single-handedly became the catalyst in opening up the entire other half of the country to electric vehicles? Could this have been the plan all along? A stroke of pure marketing genius that has tricked everyone on both sides to go off the rails on social media? (You know what they say about “all press…”)
I’ve always respected the power of Elon’s meme god status, but upending this century-long love fest between Republicans and Fossil Fuels? That would be NEXT-LEVEL. A roundhouse kick to the jugular of the fossil fuel industry like we’ve never seen!
Selling my f150 and buying a Tesla, Mr Musk. It’s powered by LIBERAL TEARS!
— Alex Fisch (@AlexFischCC) May 17, 2020
I do charge a premium…but I’m more than willing to spare a few of these liberal tears in the name of a cleaner planet.
Since my first day following Tesla 2 years ago, I’ve never seen electric vehicles receive this much attention from the right-wing.
This may all seem like a stretch, but this next-level strategy would make a whole lot of sense.
If the political-right finally learns to dissociate Tesla from being an exclusive snowflake-mobile, then gas trucks will be truly doomed to an EV smackdown on Cybertruck launch. And that, my friends, would be a historic turning of tables for an oil industry that desperately needs these people to keep their dying narrative afloat.
And isn’t that what we ALL want in the end?
Mass-scale sustainable energy won’t be achieved if half the country supports it, and half opposes it.
So please, if a random Matrix reference on the internet has prompted an existential crisis in your mind, please resist these knee-jerk emotions. The clean energy movement is just getting started, and I believe all this Twitter madness could end up being the sneakiest masterclass in marketing history.
We’ve all been begging for the sustainability movement to become a bi-partisan goal.
Now who will put their Twitter where their mouth is?