There’s something tragically poetic about Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter.
There’s a whole subculture of lamentation about modern society that can be fairly well summed up in Peter Thiel’s roughly decade-old gripe that things like Twitter were distracting us from greatness: “We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters.”
Today, we get twice as many characters on Twitter, but the complaint endures. Not just innovation, but also exploration, have been subverted by screens and scrolling from our couches or porcelain thrones. Rather than go to the moon or Mars, our best minds focused on keeping you from putting down your phone.
For those who rejected that argument, Elon Musk was Exhibit A personified. Our generation’s Howard Hughes—in more ways than one—Musk built things, from electric cars to rockets. He even declared he wanted to die on Mars, as a kind of Martian Moses, delivering humanity to a promised land as an interplanetary species.