Elon Musk: tech visionary or cringe-posting boomer?

Joan Westenberg
3 min readNov 16, 2023

There’s something almost quaint about how Elon Musk, a tech giant ostensibly at the forefront of innovation, resorts to the kind of jibes you’d expect from a grumpy uncle at Thanksgiving. When he tosses around phrases like “The New Woke Times” and “Lamestream Media,” it feels less like the cutting-edge wit of a genius entrepreneur and more like the out-of-touch mutterings of a boomer who’s misplaced his reading glasses.

Let’s unpack this a bit. For all his success in revolutionizing industries, from electric cars with Tesla to private space travel with SpaceX, Musk seems oddly mired in a kind of cultural disconnect. It’s like watching someone who has the map to the future but is still using a compass from the 1950s to read it.

His not-so-scintillating quips are reminiscent of a time when snark was less about sharp wit and more about a blunt instrument of dismissiveness. It’s the kind of humour that belongs on a dusty bumper sticker rather than in the lexicon of one of the most influential tech leaders of our time.

Elon Musk’s endorsement of a vile antisemitic conspiracy theory on November 15 summons a genre of rhetoric more fitted for the darker corners of our recent past. It’s a discourse reminiscent of a bygone era’s intolerances and fears, something you might expect from a tiresome, embarrassing, problematic and racist aunt at a family BBQ.

But here’s the kicker: Musk’s approach isn’t just a throwback; it’s a mirror to a deeper, more perplexing aspect of his persona. It’s as if he’s juggling two identities: the forward-thinking, boundary-pushing innovator and the eye-rolling, meme-sharing internet troll. This duality is fascinating, albeit a bit disconcerting.

The juxtaposition becomes especially glaring when you consider the cultural and generational gap. In his late forties, Musk is technically a Gen Xer, yet he often behaves like a boomer disenchanted with the rapid pace of cultural change. He tries to resonate with the millennial and Gen Z crowd through his ventures into cryptocurrencies, cringe memes, and internet culture, but his views have aged badly and his attempts at relevancy are deeply uncomfortable. The result is a strange cocktail of progressiveness and petulance, like someone trying to ride a horse and a hoverboard at the same time.

In a way, Musk embodies the growing pains of our era: the struggle to reconcile the rapid technological advancements with the slower evolution of social and cultural norms. His erratic behaviour is a live demonstration of this tension, a billionaire’s journey through the complexities of modern identity, where one foot is planted in a world of rockets and AI, and the other in a world where calling the media “lamestream” is considered a mic drop.

The next time Elon Musk posts something that seems straight out of a boomer’s Qanon Facebook page, remember: it’s not a billionaire being eccentric. It’s a snapshot of a generational and cultural crossroads, where the future meets the past, and an aging tech visionary whose kids have stopped calling navigates the tricky terrain of a world that’s changing faster than he can “Xeet” about it.