As Twitter descends into a hellscape, the people need a reminder.
By Yasmine Abdeldayem
Photo Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images
Elon Musk’s working-class army pledge their loyalties to CEO that would forget their name in 3 seconds flat.
And yes, this statement, so stripped of nuance that it feels asinine to even bear repeating, must be shouted from the rooftops of the penthouse suites and idyllic cliffside mansions that your treasured bigwigs stow themselves away in.
America has a problem—well, America has many problems, but this one is called individualism.
It is isolation disguised as healthy aspiration; a monster with claws encrusted in diamonds that shine so bright you don’t see how far they’ve pulled you from your fellow man until it’s too late.
It is delusion spoon-fed to us through over-the-top reality TV shows, social media clips of Kylie Jenner picking out a designer purse in a personal closet so vast it produces a haunting echo, the circulating myths that your favorite CEOs started with nothing but a garage and a dream (and generous investments of hundreds of thousands of dollars).
It is the essence of why Elon Musk, tyrannical overseer of Twitter as of late, maintains a far-from-modest assembly of fanboys who giddily flood the billionaire’s social media when he “owns” working-class people.
Said fanboys stare into the abyss of their future when they stumble upon tweets of Twitter employees condemning Musk’s Queen-of-Hearts-esque terror streak.
And they shrink away from its depths, never mind the solidarity that could be uncovered on the other side.
Much easier to “@elonmusk” and let their pedestaled billionaire deal with those who dare to step out of line, who have the sheer audacity not to appreciate what the Man has so generously given.
Capitalist culture conditions Americans to hail the myth of the “self-made billionaire” and the notion that anyone can pick themselves up from their bootstraps, as they keep plodding away at their undercompensated 9-5.
And far be it for any self-respecting, humble individual to unleash warranted criticism against the haughty one-percent. After all, that could be them, one day.
If you work hard while fending off burnout and finding time to foster innovation. If you play it stringent and budget like a maniac, then take a death-defying leap like Bezos and Musk (but with a whole lot of faith instead of safety nets).
There’s a whole lot of if’s woven inextricably into this myth, designed to lure you in and envelop you in the web of profiteering and corruption.
You can do the billionaires’ bidding and search for the rest of your life, convinced a semblance of truth exists in the inherently unattainable.
Or you can forgo the maniacal budgeting and daredevilish leaps toward blurry dreams of riches to foster what American individualism has tried to not-so-gently guide you away from.
We stray further from it every day, distanced by conflicting career interests, preoccupations with climbing the corporate ladder, and the raw conviction that bettering ourselves means separating ourselves from the whole.
We witness a melancholy among the mass of twenty-somethings, who navigate isolating cities and dreary cubicles while mourning the close-knit, walkable communities from college dormitories.
Corporate blogs have recently coined the phrase “quiet quitting” to berate people who have simply stopped overworking themselves and turn to friends, to family, once the clock strikes five.
To embrace hyper-individualism is to share more identity with the faceless user that dutifully camps in the reply section to Musk’s tweets, than with the baggy-eyed employees that turn in their badges at Twitter HQ (or even the polite old man that holds the door when you’re several feet from the entry).
Withhold your praise from those soaring so far above our heads that they have stopped trying to tell the difference between the people and the ants.
Value the people that are close enough to the ground to look you empathetically in the eye.
Bring a tray of banana bread to the new neighbors again. Ask your local barista for their name and inquire about the Friday night poetry reading you said you’d never attend.
Steel your fellow workers with firm words of encouragement instead of crossing their strike lines. Your coffee can wait but your community is prone to crumbling.
Community is not the rapid antidote to the individualism that powers the veins of capitalism. It is the slow-burning thaw that makes the roads more pleasant to travel.
Take the time to nurture it.