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(144) Duo

The above video features a man who decided to menace Elon Musk’s son, “X”—perhaps not so much a son as a special project, like the Bell X-1. The man in the video apparently blocked the car that Musk’s son was in and jumped on the hood. This exchange is very typical in our contemporary world, even between men, it’s sort of a peculiar passive-aggressive “phone duel” where two people psychically square off and implicitly threaten each other with the authorities via their smartphones. I don’t favour the “Karen” meme, due to the way it’s deployed at the meta level, but it does contain a certain truth; it’s the school-marm attitude: “Can I have your name? I’m writing to your manager. I have it here—a permanent written record.” It’s where high technology meets bureaucracy (“Now where’s the drop-down menu so I can make a complaint?”).

Smartphones and ubiquitous Internet have combined to make the passive-aggressive and entirely lame Mexican stand-off a staple for Internet exchanges—with micro-celebrities circling each other, phones in hand: “I’m recording you, mate.” “Well, I’m recording you.” “I’ve got your licence plate.” On the other hand, this video shows that Musk is up against straightforward gangsterism. I had a friend whose associate ran up debts with a dodgy online casino. Result: private eye hired to follow his daughter to school, then send pictures to the debtor. “Nice daughter you’ve got there—be a shame if anything happened to her.” You don’t even have to write it, of course—the medium is the message.

This is just about the same behaviour with Musk. We know where your children are. It’s the KGB sending Solzhenitsyn photos of car crash victims and cancer patients. “Checked your tyres, old man?” “Polonium in the ice cream—didn’t see that coming, did you?”. It’s all menace and implication, very feminine actually—gangsterism is feminine. “What do you mean, you’re calling the police? I can park here if I want, can’t I? What’s your issue?”.


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