Tesla Owners Try to Make Sense of Elon Musk’s ‘Red Pill’ Moment


Owning a Tesla, the luxurious electrical automobile, is a serious liberal standing image. It alerts nothing greater than good style — the proper steadiness of wealth with take care of fossil fuels. But the person behind the model is crafting a really totally different persona on-line which will now show to be a problem for his followers.

So Tesla owners are having to grapple with a car that carries a few new connotations.

“Honestly, Musk is becoming a liability and the Tesla board needs to seriously consider ousting him,” wrote Markos Moulitsas, author of “The Resistance Handbook: 45 Ways to Fight Trump.” “And I say that as a proud owner of a Tesla and a SpaceX fanatic who truly appreciates what he’s built.”

In “The Matrix,” the movie’s hero, Neo, played by Keanu Reeves, is given the option to take a pill that lets him see the truth.

The world he thinks is real turns out to be an entertaining lie; his body is actually trapped in a farm where people are being used as human batteries. Taking the blue pill would let him return to living in the ignorant but blissful lie, while taking the red pill would launch him into an arduous journey through a brutal but fulfilling reality.

The idea of taking the red pill later grew to mean waking up to society’s grand lies. It was embraced by the right, especially by members of its youngest cohort who organized and spent their time in online forums like Reddit and 4chan.

The truth to be woken up to varied, but it ended up usually being about gender. To be red-pilled meant you discovered that feminism was a scam that ruined the lives of boys and girls. In this view, for a male to refuse the red pill was to be weak.

As these conversations seeped into the mainstream, pulled along by a host of other internet language from message boards to establishment Republican conversations on sites like Breitbart, the meaning broadened and got watered down. To be red-pilled can now mean being broadly skeptical of experts, to be distrustful of the mainstream press or to see hypocrisy in social liberalism.

“We have a phrase, it’s EMM — Elon Moves Markets,” said Bill Selesky, an analyst at Argus Research who tracks how Mr. Musk’s messages impact Tesla’s stock price. “People want to listen to him no matter what he says. He tends to be thought of as a great visionary.”

Mr. Selesky said that even Mr. Musk’s detractors carefully parse every tweet and utterance. “Plus, if you have a Tesla, nobody can ever complain about you because you’re good for society,” he added.

Few products today are as deeply entwined with a person’s brand as Tesla is with Mr. Musk, and so his comments can feel personal for Tesla drivers.

“As a Tesla owner, a 47-year-old male recovering from Covid-19, and someone very concerned simultaneously about the environment, the economy, my kids’ and my parents’ future, this ain’t great,” said Jeff Guilfoyle, a product manager at FireEye in San Diego. “This disease is no joke, and the long-term health impacts are unknown for survivors.”

Many have implored Mr. Musk online to stop.

Raja Sohail Abbas, the chief executive of an outpatient psychiatric clinic in Allentown, Pa., wrote, “I am a Tesla owner and love the company. You have to stop being an idiot about this.”

“Tesla owner and Fan here, but this was a disappointing tweet despite the frustrations of and holdups,” added Alex Goodchild, a DJ in Brooklyn. “Words are weapons especially when used during situations like the one we’re currently experiencing. You sound just like Trump in this tweet.”

The debate has riven the Tesla community.

“The last two months, there’s been this polarization in the Elon Musk fan club,” said Paula Timothy-Mellon, a technology consultant who moderates that LinkedIn-based fan club, which has 22,000 members. “There are those who are believers in these California guidelines and there are those in favor of his push to re-open Tesla.”

Driving a Tesla often carries great symbolism for the owner (and observers).

“If you own a Tesla, you feel you are directly connected to Elon Musk and people think that Tesla owners are directly connected to the politics of the C.E.O.,” said Sam Kelly, a Tesla owner and investor based in Spain who posts under the name SamTalksTesla.

He added that he did not think the red pill comment meant any big new political awakening from Mr. Musk.

Asked to explain his thinking, Mr. Musk pasted an image of the Urban Dictionary definition of red pill in an email. It read:

“‘Red pill’ has become a popular phrase among cyberculture and signifies a free-thinking attitude, and a waking up from a ‘normal’ life of sloth and ignorance. Red pills prefer the truth, no matter how gritty and painful it may be.”



Source link Nytimes.com

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