Elon’s Ingenious Capitalization of Hopelessness
The fine line between technology and science-fiction
I’ve already explained how conspiracy theorists make up a non-negligible piece of dialogue about the state of our society. But there is a segment of the US population which believes in something close to conspiracy, although it has not been deemed anywhere near as toxic or insane: science-fiction.
To recap, the driving factors behind conspiracy are a loss of faith in our socio-economic systems, misdiagnosed as deliberate perpetrations of evil, as opposed to what it truly is — pure ignorance on the part of our policymakers and figureheads.
I don’t think many people would argue with me when I say there’s very little positivity to be found in our country anymore, but it’s my contention that this is not because things are actually worse than they’ve ever been, but because we’ve become much more cynical as a result of mass unconsciousness as a society. Despite whatever is going on in our outer reality, if we have deep embedded fear and resentment, we will always find something and someone to criticize. In this way, political problems have come to dominate national discourse — our country is driven by an ideological fight to seek out and destroy every last ounce of evil. Yet ‘evil’ is seen as anything we disagree with — we dig up the dirt, and claim we’ve done our moral duty by exposing it to the world, and then leave that heaping pile of dirt we’ve dug up in the middle of the road, impeding the progress of anybody who wants to move along. Solutions are not part of the equation. Politics is the means and the end. As long as we’ve made the opposing party looks like fools, we’ve feel like we’ve done our jobs.
But beyond all that fruitless negativity, there is some near-universally accepted hope, and it’s displayed in none other than the phenomenon that is… Elon Musk.
Elon represents hope for the American people because he has acknowledged the mass discontent and addressed it in a way nobody else has: with science fiction.
Elon is a rare combination of successful tech entrepreneur and entertainer. He has cultivated a brand around his persona which screams irreverent ambition. He can be ruthless, he can be witty, and he can also be a complete troll.
The reason he is trusted is because he’s been successful in his field, having become a millionaire long ago through the acquisition his company Zip2 and later Paypal.
I certainly don’t discount the amount of hard work he’s put in over the years, and perhaps a level of technical or scientific acuity. But in recent years, his rise to fame has to do with something else: his vision. He has created a captivating narrative around his work, one driven by the seemingly unlimited potential of technology. But what it really is, is science-fiction. He has blurred the lines between technology and fantasy, convincing us that he, a successful tech entrepreneur, will transform our world into the futuristic utopia we’ve come to be familiar with through sci-fi books and movies over the years. He’s managed to seamlessly merge his business prospects — something real — with the collective imagination of the American people — something based in pure fantasy.
Let’s get something straight — imagination can drive us to do great things as a civilization. But there no doubt exists a point where reality ends and fiction begins — a point where certain ideas are better suited for Netflix than Tesla or SpaceX. Yet, Elon, with his larger-than-life personality, insists that they can be achieved.
This may just be the greatest marketing ploy in the history of humanity.
But the reason Elon’s vision resonates so well with Americans is because it gives us an escape from our otherwise miserable state of affairs. He gives us hope, that we as a society are not doomed to collapse at the hands of an incompetent leaders and over-politicized social environment, and instead posits that if we only believe in technology, we can be saved.
He has managed to find a narrow crack in the wall of our hyperpartisan political discourse, where people of either side can buy in, so long as they just believe.
Meanwhile, the reality is that our society is indeed collapsing, and technology will not save us. Elon’s version of the future is a perfectly reasonable, yet impossible, alternate reality — one which would make a great movie some day. But the more we buy into his unachievable dreams, the more we are neglecting the real problems that are plaguing our society — digging ourselves, yet again, deeper into delusion.
The only true solution to the plight of Americans is to rise to a state of higher consciousness as individuals. When we let go of our irrational fears of real technology, our narcissism in assuming we are the best country on the planet, and our antagonism of our fellow citizens for having different views — only then will be able to build that bright and technologically advanced future we’ve been dreaming about — and no, it will not, in any scenario, involve colonizing mars.