Hardly a better time for the 186 years old story by Hans Christian Andersen than in the most recent performance of Elon Musk. The Emperor’s New Clothes, also known as The Naked King, is the perfect tale to reveal a reality that the power always tries to conceal.
“That was insane, sorry,” is the most important thing the richest man in the world could say before the chaotic event in which he used his new toy –Twitter–, to try to boost the far-right Ron DeSantis as a substitute for Donald Trump´s role in the political circus.
Beyond the series of technical failures, system crashes and a dynamic of collective disorder, the launching of Florida governor’s presidential candidacy before an expected audience of many million people, the political-digital spectacle exposed the fragility and ethereal condition of those who, behind their curtain, pretend to rule the world.
A true protagonist of present-day public life, the first major beneficiary of the “privatization” of space exploration was unable to even start his propaganda machine –he says he has 140 million followers–, with less than 600,000 connections he lost the trasmition and when he got it back, he had less than half of that amount were connected.
After being forced to follow through on his threat of an aggressive purchase of Twitter for 44 billion dollars, the owner of Tesla showed what he is: a kind of financial pirate who has managed to outperform almost all his rivals in a kind of perverse game based on deception and the imposition of the force of money.
Deserving of the supreme funeral apology that Kendall Roy makes on the TV screen of his father, the imaginary media mogul –yes, he was bad, but he was more efficient than everyone else–, on Succession(HBO), Musk failed in his attempt to replace the old political liturgy of highly choreographed events with the “modern” formula of streaming through his “blessed social media”.
Of course, neither Musk nor DeSantis is the center of this story. Neither is the lack of servers, fiber optic lines or technicians that Musk himself took it upon himself to belittle and dismiss in his constant attempts to transform Twitter into a kind of global megaphone at the service of his ego and his personal interests.
Little more than a century after Hans Christian Andersen published his story about the profound stupidity and blindness of the emperor and, perhaps worst, the perversity of the Court that surrounds him, another immortal author, Albert Camus, once again put his finger on the sore spot. In The Rebel, just when he describes the dialectic of the master and the slave, the brilliant French author reveals the stark mutual existential dependence between the two and, also, the explosive resource against any type of imposition of the primary rebellion, the power to say “No”.
Re-discovering that social media is not “the voice of the people” –neither traditional media or surveys– is almost obligatory given the use of these platforms from leaders so fashionable in these times. Both Facebook and Twitter –and in general, all the others– are companies with their own agendas and interests, which are not only economic.
One day after the next, the sorcerer’s apprentices –name Putin, Erdogan, the Ortega´s, Maduro and the “little bird” that speaks to him or you-know-who–, show off their self-proclaim leadership, the love that, they say, their people have professed them or their military force. Perhaps they do such displays because that illusion of supreme power is what they feed on.
Let the Musk-DeSantis incident serve as a reminder that, behind the curtain, the great wizard is neither as big, nor as strong, nor as wise, as he wants us to believe he is. After all, underneath the image we try to project –clothes, yachts, palaces, mines, troops, jewelry–we are all more or less the same. With more or less tummy´s, with more or less wrinkles.