Elon Musk has disappointed me many times. He bought my favorite social network and made it bad. He has mistreated workers across his companies, and he has permanently ruined the enduring comedy of 420 and 69 jokes.
And today, he got my hopes up that he was actually going to cage fight Mark Zuckerberg.
I know better than to take anything Elon says at face value. I have been part of numerous editorial conversations about how to write about a man who runs several exceptionally powerful companies, yet constantly talks out of his ass and cannot deliver on his promises. But something seemed different this morning, when he tweeted (yes, I’m still calling them tweets) that the fight was on.
“I spoke to the PM of Italy and Minister of Culture. They have agreed on an epic location,” Musk wrote. “Everything done will pay respect to the past and present of Italy.”
Seemed like a pretty definitive statement! He even vowed to donate proceeds to veterans? But then, the Meta CEO had to go and bring us back down to Earth.
“I love this sport and I’ve been ready to fight since the day Elon challenged me,” Zuckerberg wrote on Threads, Meta’s Twitter competitor. “If he ever agrees on an actual date, you’ll hear it from me. Until then, please assume anything he says has not been agreed on.”
Let’s get one thing out of the way: it is very funny that the two CEOs are playing telephone and sassing one another on the respective microblogging platforms that they own, rather than actually speaking to each other. But that aside, Zuck’s post disappointed me. For one thing, Darrell once agreed to send me to Rome to cover the fight at the Colosseum, and I am 99.99% sure that Darrell was joking, but hey, a squeaky wheel gets the grease. What’s key here is that no one at TechCrunch has definitively said, “No, Amanda, we will not pay for you to go to Rome to watch two billionaires fight.”
But I’m not delusional. I know that my desire to eat fresh pasta is not an editorial priority, though a girl can dream.
So why was I so disappointed to hear from Zuck that Elon has once again let me down? It wasn’t because I genuinely believed that I would be going to Rome for the event. Instead, I had to confront an inconvenient truth about the person I’ve become.
I want Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg to cage fight.
Musk and Zuckerberg both cause me significant distress — not just because I write about them, but because I care about humanity (and no, not in the Muskian way where he seems to believe we should all become baby-making machines in our little space pods on Mars). Zuckerberg’s decisions as the head of a platform used by billions have in part led to genocide and the obstruction of democracy. Musk’s negligence when it comes to all things content moderation and platform safety could engender similar consequences. It’s exhausting to watch these powerful men continually make the same mistakes, refusing to learn from themselves or each other. And then, Congress steps in to try to regulate these companies, but inadvertently proposes legislation that just makes things worse.
So, I made a deal with myself. If I’m going to write about social media and stay sane, I need to root for the dumbest things possible to happen, so long as the consequences don’t actually cause harm. The Musk v. Zuckerberg cage fight is the perfect representation of this: it’s so stupid, but the only people who will actually get hurt are the perpetrators of this stupidity themselves.
And that’s all before we even get into the cage fight itself. I love watching men fall victim to their own hubris — call me Homer — and that’s exactly what Musk has coming for him.
When he’s not trying to convince us to wear VR headsets all day, Zuckerberg is getting swole. Really. He’s found the time to win Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournaments, all while coming up with one-liners to get investors off his back about how much money Reality Labs is losing.
Zuckerberg is so undeniably the favorite to win this fight, but Musk can’t back down because he’s already made a public commitment. It’s like when he pledged $44 billion to buy Twitter and then changed his mind, except this time, there’s not even any money at stake.
I don’t even care to watch the actual fight — that’s not what interests me. It’s the fragility of the male ego, for me.
You can have more money than anyone in the world, yet still have such a delicate sense of self that you’ll agree to get your ass kicked inside of an ancient world wonder. At least Elon and I can agree on one thing: human nature is incredible.