In recent memory, a conversation about Elon Musk might have had two fairly balanced sides. There were the partisans of Visionary Elon, head of Tesla and SpaceX, a selfless billionaire who was putting his money toward what he believed would save the world. And there were critics of Egregious Elon, the unrepentant troll who spent a substantial amount of his time goading online hordes. These personas existed in a strange harmony, displays of brilliance balancing out bursts of terribleness. But since Musk’s acquisition of Twitter, Egregious Elon has been ascendant, so much so that the argument for Visionary Elon is harder to make every day.
Take, just this week, a back-and-forth on Twitter, which, as is usually the case, escalated quickly. A Twitter employee named Haraldur Thorleifsson tweeted at Musk to ask whether he was still employed, given that his computer access had been cut off. Musk—who has overseen a forced exodus of Twitter employees—asked Thorleifsson what he’s been doing at Twitter. Thorleifsson replied with a list of bullet points. Musk then accused him of lying and in a reply to another user, snarked that Thorleifsson “did no actual work, claimed as his excuse that he had a disability that prevented him from typing, yet was simultaneously tweeting up a storm.” Musk added: “Can’t say I have a lot of respect for that.” Egregious Elon was in full control.