Elon Musk's Brain Worms Are Our Brain Worms Now

Elon Musk's Brain Worms Are Our Brain Worms Now

The speech is free and the bad faith is flowing a million miles an hour now that the world's richest man controls our digital town hall.

Elon Musk, after pulling off the biggest self own in human history with his accidental $44 billion purchase of Twitter, has made it clear that we'll do anything and everything to accelerate our collapse into a post-truth future. The last vestiges of agreed-upon reality are being wiped away by Musk and his far-right cheerleaders. In this way, Musk – not Donald Trump, not Vladimir Putin, not Viktor Orban – is now the titular head of the global fascist movement.

The worms that reside in Musk's brain are everyone's problem now. His worms are our worms, and they threaten to dig and writhe until they're settled deep within our consciousness, convincing us things are never what they seem. The worms – Elon's worms, fat and hungry and plentiful – have already started to feast on us, and Musk hasn't owned Twitter for even one week.

Musk used his perch atop Twitter over the weekend to give life to a right-wing misinformation campaign designed to cast doubt on the assassination attempt against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whose husband was hit in the head with a hammer as the attacker waited for Pelosi to come home. Hilariously, tragically, mind-numbingly, Musk replied to Hillary Clinton, of all people, with a post from a fake news site positing there was "more to the story" of far-right violence run amok. Musk, like millions of online broken brains, believes Paul Pelosi engaged in a drunken fight with a sex worker. Musk, maybe after someone told him he's a fucking idiot, later deleted the post.

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That Musk is at the head of the most important, influential information ecosystem in the world is a nightmare without equal. He is, like most fantastically wealthy men, a know-nothing moron, a fake intellectual who has been given everything and believes he is worthy of running the world, shaping it in his image, idiocy and all. Musk is a Twitter addict who happens to own the site. His promotion of the conspiratorial right wing – is there any other kind of right wing? – tells us everything we need to know about Twitter in the Age of Elon. As your favorite Bad Faith Times writer said in the spring, he is dead set on unleashing a torrent of misinformation and disinformation that will further poison the body politick and make it impossible for sane political discourse to exist in the run-up to the 2024 election.

Think of Musk's purchase of Twitter as assurance that the right can say and do anything to push us into full-blown fascism. Musk hasn't just opened the henhouse for the foxes; he's given the foxes AR-15s and hand grenades. We have no recourse for what Musk will do to our democratic republic in the coming years. Unfettered access to the internet, in my view, is and always has been incompatible with democracy because it destroys the reality that is the basis for society. Musk's Twitter takeover is the final online blow to whatever democracy we have left. The richest man on earth is going to lead us into worldwide authoritarianism unless he shits his pants and gives up on his Twitter takeover.

The creation of alternate realities is fundamental to the spread of bad-faith politics. At the very core of bad faith is someone pretending to believe something they do not believe or know to be untrue. Take the Pelosi assassination attempt: Musk and the online right quickly – through fevered world building fueled by their biases – devised an alternate view of the attack on the Speaker's husband. He was simply engaged in a lover's quarrel with a sex worker. Nothing to see here. Bad-faith performance artists like Glenn Greenwald, mourning the reelection loss of far-right goon Jaire Bolsanaro, glommed on to this make-believe version of events and blasted it into the political mainstream.

Now there are two versions of events in the assassination attempt against an American political leader – the real one and the conservative one. The right will say it believes the false version of events and feign outrage that mainstream outlets won't treat both stories equally. Conservatives do not actually believe the fake version of the Pelosi assassination attempt (they will insist they do, but they don't). And that's the beauty of bad faith politics: We are forced to treat everyone's views as legitimate. Just as they've done with abortion and guns and health care and immigration, conservatives have carefully pieced together a worldview built on lies and half truths and forced media outlets to treat their deranged stances as legitimate.

We're learning to live with somebody's depression, David Bowie sang in 1978's Fantastic Voyage, a pitch-black depiction of life during the height of the Cold War, when nuclear death threatened to rain down every hour of every day. Bowie was referring to the mental health of world leaders and being subject to the whims of their depressed and anxious minds. Catch Ronnie Reagan in a bad mood one morning and there might be mushroom clouds stretching from Moscow to Topeka. A contentious meeting of the Russian Politburo might lead to human extinction. So it goes.

Today we have to learn to live with Elon Musk's failing mental health. We have to live with the psychic scars left by the years of bullying Musk endured as a kid with Asperger's syndrome. His pain is our pain, just as Trump's pain was our pain – and still is, to an extent. Musk's brain worms belong to us. We will have to endure the retribution Musk is determined to deliver after years of the online left mocking him for being aggressively unfunny on Twitter. Musk owns the discourse, he owns our thoughts, and he owns the way humans perceive reality. The guy who makes cars that constantly catch on fire and rockets that explode now gets to decide humanity's future.

For all his promotion of wild-eyed conspiracies that earn him praise from the radicalized American right, Musk has long talked of his fascination with truth, with sussing out what is and is not real.

"I was absolutely obsessed with truth. Just obsessed with truth," he said during a TED talk in April, describing his "unhappy" youth. "The obsession with truth is why I studied physics because physics attempts to understand the truth of the universe...And then computer science or information theory: There's an argument that information theory is operating at a more fundamental level than even physics."

It's jarring to think this man, who claims to be obsessed with truth, would buy into fake narratives on critically important cultural and political events. Musk's brain worms make sure he seeks the "truth" that most upsets his enemies. Those fucking worms are determined to own the libs. And they will.

Follow Denny Carter on Twitter at @CDCarter13.