The AtlanticThe Atlantic

The nerds are bullies now

By Ian Bogost

23 Jun 2023 · 4 min read

informed Summary

  1. Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg have jokingly agreed to a mixed-martial-arts cage match, highlighting the tech industry's shift towards physical prowess.

Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, two computer geeks worth more than $300 billion put together, are posturing to fight each other in a mixed-martial-arts cage match. The dumb backstory: Facebook, which was Zuckerberg’s follow-up to a girl-rating website started in his Harvard dorm room, has been building a competitor to Twitter, a website for yelling at people online that Musk, who once made his tunnel-digging company manufacture flamethrower-like devices, bought for $44 billion in a fit of pique last year. Then a senior Meta executive implied that Musk’s leadership of Twitter was, well, not sane, and Musk was like “😅” (or whew, lol in emoji), and then some tweep warned him that Zuck does jiu-jitsu now, and Musk went, “I’m up for a cage match,” and then Zuck agreed, or at least posted that he did on the internet.

What to make of this? Turning sports competition into a proxy for corporate triumph is nothing new; just think of the Oracle founder Larry Ellison’s obsession with yacht racing. But to invoke hand-to-hand combat, and infliction of actual physical violence, as a jostle for computer-app supremacy does ring new bells. Over the past three decades, thanks to the massive profits of the tech industry and its magnates, mental fortitude seemed to overtake physical strength on the path to success, and as a cultural value. But nope, it sure didn’t.

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