I try not to get sucked too much into billionaire hijinks on Twitter as they’re usually nothing more than inconsequential nonsense that tech journalists and their audiences lap up as a light entertainment sideshow.
But news about Elon Musk’s childish retort to a US politician, and Jeff Bezos’ similarly ridiculous ‘joke’ about Leonardo DiCaprio really got to me.
Most people who tweet dumb jokes have very little power; they’re just venting or being silly. Even if they’re inexcusably abusive to the targets of their tweets, at the root of the situation is usually little more than ‘dumb person says dumb thing on Twitter’.
By sh*tposting (I’m not a prude, but your email filters might be), Musk and Bezos might think they’re showing how they’re just normal, social-savvy geeks like anyone else. But their individual net worth and their influence on the world tell a different story.
Just look at how cities and countries bend over backwards to offer tax breaks and other sweeteners to get a new Amazon facility or Tesla factory built in their region… or how one unexpected word from the lips of Musk or Bezos can move markets.
Musk is far more often the offending party here than Bezos, but by failing to give the power their own words can have a decent level of respect, the billionaires are being gross… and grossly irresponsible.