Depending on your point of view, Elon Musk – aka the world’s richest man and the new owner of Twitter – is either a dangerous lunatic or some sort of visionary genius.

If you’re one of the thousands of Twitter staff whose jobs are at risk, it’s likely you subscribe to the former school of thought, and understandably so.

For the rest of us, however, it’s possible he could turn out to be the latter. Maybe, who knows, even a kind of modern-day superhero.

If his recent choice of Halloween costume – Iron Man – is anything to go by, that’s certainly how Musk would seem to view himself.

Iron Man is a business magnate, playboy, inventor and maverick scientist (remind you of anyone?) who acquires his superpowers not thanks to a radioactive spider or interplanetary legacy, but via a mechanised suit of armour.

Musk’s belief in the power of science to answer the world’s needs (while lining his own pockets) has always been unshakeable. But the problem with Twitter is that it’s not a machine, or a rocket or a computer program – it’s something much more complex and unwieldy, and in many ways more terrifying: a giant electronic organism made up of millions of individual human minds.

That may explain why Musk, having acquired the social media platform, is proving useless at running it. For the first time in perhaps his entire career he’s having to interact meaningfully with humans, and lots of them too. Over 200 million of the blighters, in fact.

And for a man who has been open about his neurodiversity – he revealed he had Asperger’s in 2021 – that must be quite a challenge.

Take his idea to charge $8 a month for a blue tick, or whatever it is. The network already offers a subscription for paid features, but in Musk’s head this must seem like a sensible and practical solution to the need to generate revenue.

But what he can’t understand is why people resent the thought of having to pay for a service they already enjoy, and also feel that doing so would somehow devalue the coveted blue tick status they hold so dear.

He thinks that’s an illogical response, which it is.

But it’s also a very human, emotional response, which is what he is struggling to process.

And that’s because for all his impressive IQ he has the EQ (emotional intelligence) of a garden gnome. For the same reason, he can’t see why it’s so outrageous to fire employees while they’re asleep and lock them out of their accounts. It’s just the way his brain works.

But there is an irony here. Because if Musk really does end up destroying Twitter with his Iron Man approach, he could end up doing the human race a very great service indeed.

Because, let’s face it, Twitter has done more to diminish the human spirit than almost any other invention of the past 20 years. It is the intellectual equivalent of an alco-pop, a platform that encourages and rewards the worst kind of human behaviour.

It helps spread ignorance and misinformation and has, through its virtual mob-and-pitchfork culture, contributed to the narrowing of debate, the grotesque simplification of complex issues, the persecution of original writers and thinkers, the debasement of politics and the rise of a culture of intolerance that, frankly, makes the Spanish Inquisition look lenient.

There is no doubt in my mind that the world would be a better – not to mention happier, kinder and saner – place without it.

Forget sending a man to Mars. Killing Twitter could be Musk’s greatest gift to civilisation yet.


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