Patterico's Pontifications

12/29/2022

A Look At Privilege: Grown Man Frets Over What His Friends Will Think Of Him Because He Drives A Tesla (UPDATE ADDED)

Filed under: General — Dana @ 12:47 pm



[guest post by Dana]

Frankly, I’d be embarrassed to say any of this out loud. It’s bizarre that an adult is worried about what people will think of him driving a Tesla! (see: Bad Elon Musk), and considers his conundrum worthy of an essay (and the Los Angeles Times (where it originally appeared) considers it important enough to publish). It all seems so…privileged. Apparently, pesky issues like food, clothing, or shelter aren’t a worry for our writer, but rather what his friends will think of him for driving a Muskmobile is what’s keeping him up at night. This just has to be a new definition of privilege:

A few years ago, I bought a used Tesla, not because I’m a car nut but because I had been a hypocrite. For years, I had been outspoken about the dangers of carbon emissions. Yet at the same time, I was driving an old gas-powered heap that got about 25 miles per gallon, and that sounded like a rocket launch every time I turned on the ignition…My environmental activist friends were not impressed by my assiduous urban composting, LED bulb installations and energy-saving appliances. I needed to do more to diminish my carbon footprint. The icebergs were melting, my friends said, and at least one polar bear was wandering around homeless and hungry because of me…Many insisted that Teslas were the best for the environment. Pricey but worth it. So I said goodbye to my gas guzzler and made the leap.

Man, you need to get new friends… It appears that peer pressure brought this adult male to Tesla in the first place. And peer pressure will lead him to ditch the evil car. Did I mention that the writer is not a teenager in the throes of a bone-crushing fear that he will be judged by his adolescent peers?

The author says that after getting comfortable with his Tesla, he began to enjoy it. Until The. Worst. Happened. Well, the worst in his shallow world:

Because of the recent revelation of Elon Musk’s political views — all of which I abhor — I’m starting to worry about what sort of political statement the car is making. Will people see me as a symbol of right-wing environmentalism, a living oxymoron?

When I bought the car, I had no real opinion on Musk’s somewhat clouded political beliefs. Now that Musk has apparently swung to the far right — banning journalists from Twitter while reinstating neo-Nazis — I’m horrified to be associated with his brand whenever I drive anywhere.

I cannot get over that this adult male is stuck in an 8th-grade mentality where his primary concern in life seems to be what people think of him.

More:

Given Musk’s political descent into the dark side, I wonder whether I should sell my Tesla as a form of protest. How would that adversely affect Musk? Not at all, really. The sale of a used Tesla would hardly cause a blip for the company. Even if I were part of a vast movement, and many other politically aware would-be Tesla owners opted for other, newer EVs, would a blow to Tesla stock really change anything about Musk’s politics? There would be collateral damage. How many people would lose their jobs if people stopped buying Teslas?

I don’t know whether to sell, but I do know that I’m just not as comfortable driving it anymore.

Look, pal, then don’t drive it. This isn’t a decision worthy of hand-wringing. I can only shake my head in amazement that a) an adult male is worried that people might be critical of him and unbelievably, his choice of an automobile because of politics; and b) that the cars we drive, even as adults, are considered political statements. MAGA males favor pick-up trucks, and greenies like Priuses (and Teslas). Who cares! I can’t imagine having “friends” who would smugly criticize me over what I drive. And I say this as a longtime tree-hugger doing what I can in my little corner of the world to mitigate the negative impacts. I drive an Xterra, and frankly, I have no idea what statement that makes other than decent gas mileage and the room to fit a 125-lb dog…

Unlike Mr. Privilege and the do-gooder-scolds, lots of people are concerned about the planet and can’t afford a used Tesla. They simply have other priorities and other places where they direct their money. A gas-guzzling beater might be all they’ve got to get from Point A to Point B. It’s okay. Maybe they like their old beater. So what. You’re allowed to drive what you want as well as be concerned about the planet. And you’re allowed to self-righteously harp about the environment and be a hypocrite too. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you’re also allowed to tell your judgy friends to mind their business.

UPDATE: RL formerly in Glendale and nk think this is a spoof. At the same time, JVW points out that the writer ticks off all the boxes. Either way, I’ll stand by my commentary about the twit, imagined or not. I don’t think it’s a spoof, but if it is, well done!

–Dana

47 Responses to “A Look At Privilege: Grown Man Frets Over What His Friends Will Think Of Him Because He Drives A Tesla (UPDATE ADDED)”

  1. Gigantic eye-roll here.

    Dana (1225fc)

  2. It’s not really what his friends say, but what he imagines people he never talks to might think

    He’d stand by his opinions if they were his opinions but he doesn’t want opinions he doesn’t have attributed to him.

    Sammy Finkelman (1d215a)

  3. This is why I avoid LA.

    ducks

    (Kidding. The Bay Area is chock full of the same, it just comes with a slightly different flavor.)

    john (e3650c)

  4. You realize that his political beliefs are as driven by appearance as everything else. He is the ideal Chinese citizen with his glowing social rating.

    Kevin M (1ea396)

  5. This is why I avoid LA.

    I suspect he lives in Santa Monica, if only because living in L.A. wouldn’t look as good..

    Kevin M (1ea396)

  6. A lot of Tesla drives have G-wagons hidden in the garage.

    Kevin M (1ea396)

  7. He DOES live in Santa Monica:

    John Blumenthal is a former magazine editor. He lives in Santa Monica.

    Kevin M (1ea396)

  8. More on John Blumenthal, he appears to tick all of the boxes:

    * magazine editor for Esquire, Playboy, and Salon
    * screenwriter of movies nobody saw
    * novelist whose plots seem to regularly include a man whose wife leaves him
    * Baby Boomer (born 1949)
    * from a twee bedroom community outside of New York City
    * graduate of fashionable private liberal arts college (Tufts)

    I think we can safely say this guy is a certified weenie.

    JVW (6458d0)

  9. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEwP9dJYuZ4

    “You’re ahead; in a Ford; Way ahead, in a Ford…” — Louis Armstrong, 1967

    “Oh yeahhhhh!’ – Louis Armstrong

    DCSCA (f286dd)

  10. I cannot get over that this adult male is stuck in an 8th-grade mentality where his primary concern in life seems to be what people think of him.

    Blumenthal’s reliving his 8th grader childhood– complete wth ‘The Juice Machine’… From 1970: HotWheels Sizzlers!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5puA2yJTZM&t=3s

    DCSCA (f286dd)

  11. Don’t want to be too hard on the guy — holding out hope the piece was at least partly tongue-in-cheek — but stuff like this reads like narcissism incarnate and makes it easier to continue deleting those “please resubscribe” emails the L.A. Times keeps sending. But I still miss those letters to the Sports section they would run on weekends.

    RL formerly in Glendale (48bc71)

  12. This wet noodle reminds me of the neurotic who pitched a fit because her Trump-voting neighbors were nice enough to shovel her driveway for her.

    Factory Working Orphan (6d6787)

  13. More election fraud! Ny republican jason schofield pleads guilty to vote fraud for forging signatures on mail in ballots to vote them. He was caught when voters came to vote in person and were told they had already voted by mail!

    asset (de3497)

  14. I also worry about what my friends will think of me. That’s why I drive an 8-cylinder, 460 horsepower, Mustang GT.

    norcal (862cdb)

  15. @14, I also worry about what my friends will think of me. That’s why I drive an 8-cylinder, 460 horsepower, Mustang GT.

    See #9.

    … and dead Louis Armstrong smiled.

    DCSCA (bd5c28)

  16. See #9.

    … and dead Louis Armstrong smiled.

    DCSCA (bd5c28) — 12/29/2022 @ 2:40 pm

    That was a Mustang-specific ad! I had no knowledge of it when I made my comment.

    norcal (862cdb)

  17. See if you can figure out what’s missing from America in the eyes of Madison Avenue in 1968:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qwm-RcsLcU

    DCSCA (bd5c28)

  18. * Baby Boomer (born 1949)

    Boomers vote slightly more Republican than Democrat. Not as much as Gen X, but their 60’s dalliance ended in 1980.

    Kevin M (1ea396)

  19. I think we can safely say this guy is a certified weenie.

    I have no doubt he eats quiche.

    Kevin M (1ea396)

  20. RL, If you hold out long enough, you can get the Times digital for about 97 cents for a year.

    Kevin M (1ea396)

  21. I agree that the fear of how it will look to his friends is cringe. But generally, political boycotts are a thing. They have been for a long time. To my parents it was German cars. In the ’80s liberals boycotted South Africa. Today, some boycott Israel and Fox News advertisers, others Disney and the NBA. I laugh at my friends who do it. I tell them there’s zero chance they’ll get me to stop watching Robert De Niro or James Woods. But hey, it’s their time and money to spend as they please.

    What gets me closest to boycotting is annoying commercials. (I’m easily annoyed. I know, shocker.) I scream at the television and swear I’ll never use that product, but when it comes down to it, if it’s good and the price is right, I buy it.

    lurker (cd7cd4)

  22. asset (de3497) — 12/29/2022 @ 2:17 pm

    He was caught when voters came to vote in person and were told they had already voted by mail!

    It wasn’t a very well thought out scheme.

    Could it be that he believed his own propaganda?

    Sammy Finkelman (1d215a)

  23. Spoof. Definitely spoof. That is Blumenthal’s main, if not entire, writing genre.

    The problem with satire is that it is often dependent on delivery. Sometimes it comes through with just a written narrative, other times it needs to have a live person “acting it out”. Body language, inflection, timing.

    I have seen his Mac Slade private eye spoofs, but I don’t remember actually reading one. I might give them a try.

    nk (179a3b)

  24. I don’t know, nk. See JVW’s post at 8.

    Unfortunately, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that it’s for real…

    Dana (1225fc)

  25. Added to post:

    UPDATE: RL formerly in Glendale and nk think this is a spoof. At the same time, JVW points out that the writer ticks off all the requisite boxes. Either way, I’ll stand by my commentary about the twit, imagined or not. I don’t think it’s a spoof, but if it is, well done!

    Dana (1225fc)

  26. One reason I think it’s a spoof is JVW’s comment:

    novelist whose plots seem to regularly include a man whose wife leaves him

    Blumenthal is the author of the Mac Slade Private Dick series, which are acknowledged spoofs of private detective stories. And the most overused cliche of the genre is the story starting out with the PI being hired to find a missing person.

    Sort of like: “I went down to the police station where the police beat me up. The police always beat me up.” From another author. Spoofing, I conjecture, Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlow and later imitators.

    nk (179a3b)

  27. I think we can safely say this guy is a certified weenie.
    JVW (6458d0) — 12/29/2022 @ 1:24 pm

    I thought it needed clarification.

    felipe (484255)

  28. Here is the original publication on the LA Times op-ed page.

    There is no indication that this is a spoof or, if so, that the Times’ op-ed editor is aware of it.

    Comments are still open.

    Kevin M (1ea396)

  29. And, I repeat, Santa Monica.

    Kevin M (1ea396)

  30. The G Wagon is everyday, the Tesla is for going to the fundraisers

    steveg (39d062)

  31. @22: I agree completely. Life is too short to boycott enjoyable things.

    Kevin M (1ea396)

  32. The G Wagon is everyday, the Tesla is for going to the fundraisers

    And for parking in the driveway.

    Kevin M (1ea396)

  33. Heh. Good one, steveg.

    Dana (1225fc)

  34. If it’s a spoof, the author easily passes Caplan’s “Ideological Turing Test”!

    https://www.econlib.org/archives/2011/06/the_ideological.html

    ColoComment (c11dab)

  35. Better to be privileged then stupido! Pinal county run by trumpster rethugs told other rethugs to only vote on election day no mail in ballots. So long lines caused by running out of ballot paper and to much reliance on volunteers to save money. Who couldn’t deal with voting machine and other voting problems. Over 600 rethug voters said they had to leave for work without voting and saw many more do the same to state gop party. Democrat party says thanks pinal co.rethugliKKKans democrat won az A.G. race in recount by only 280 votes!

    asset (54a3a6)

  36. I’m seeing more of the very high end Rivian Electric SUV’s here*
    https://rivian.com
    For $130K you can buy cargo space for all of your Elon Musk angst

    *By “more” I mean more than before when there was zero. I’ve seen maybe 5. Maybe 7 of the trucks

    steveg (39d062)

  37. If it’s a spoof, the author easily passes Caplan’s “Ideological Turing Test”!

    Sure. How many times have we heard, or said, “They are their own parody”? Not only woke Lalaland twinkies but any collection of noodlebrains.

    nk (bb1548)

  38. The bigger mystery for me is why a guy who is in the business of selling stuff would jump in the middle of the Twitter idiocy with both feet? It’s like Michael Jordan intentionally pissing off conservatives he wants to buy his Hanes underwear by making an ideologically-dripping comment about gun control. It’s not that Musk the businessman should forfeit his voice in the town square, but more so what exactly does he think he’s actually accomplishing?

    Sure, the Twitter cleansing fires up the culture warriors who live for handing one to libs, but I’m guessing these aren’t the same people rushing out to buy an +$80k Tesla….maybe a $25 MAGA hat. Nothing Musk has said recently is especially memorable. His comments on moderation haven’t added much to the real quandary. And like most Twitter comments, winning the internet is different from winning the argument.

    Are Blumenthal’s ruminations spoof? I don’t know…in these polarized times, it’s easy to imagine many Tesla drivers arguing the same…maybe that’s what makes it effective. The sales trend reflects something. Tesla is less function than status. It’s optional in life, there are lots of e-cars or hybrids that cost far less. We’re all about the tribe these days…and spoof or no spoof….this is one more indicator.

    AJ_Liberty (811aff)

  39. “a post-1900 conservative philosopher as well-known as Robert Nozick?”

    I don’t know about well known among the public, but many academics might consider Carl Schmitt or Oakeshott to be more important than Nozick.

    I never heard of any of the three of them. They always talk about Frederick Hayak or Thomas Sowell. Or Leo Strauss.

    Google suggest Edmund burke

    Or RoGer Scruton (WHO?)

    Sammy Finkelman (b434ee)

  40. Well, Dana, this comes to mind regarding the subject of your post.

    https://media.giphy.com/media/mn1cym1jiJOUg/giphy.gif

    I am so tired.

    Simon Jester (f97b12)

  41. “what color is the sky in your world?” -Frasier to Cliff

    Oh, we all make characterizations suited to our taste, bias, and comfort in a bid to maintain our carefully curated world-view. This is not anything special to a Walter Mitty type, nor to the nascent hermit exercising free-will in a thoughtful and disciplined manner.

    Indeed, this comment is my own contribution to the world-building to which we are all consigned however common or remote. Crucial to the many worlds around us are the five senses which are, hopefully, governed by a well-ordered mind grounded by a well-formed conscience.

    In watchmaking, a novel feature that enhances the utility of a timepiece is called a complication due to the added challenge in implementing an additional use in a strictly ruled design. When the complication’s designer and ruler are one and the same, then success may occur. What happens when a complication is introduced into a different world ruled by another?

    Such is the challenge in the free exchange of ideas in the many worlds where the rules may not even remotely be the same. Complications introduced in language hinder understanding as terminology no longer serves as common ground. Irony, satire, and parody become impossible to detect much less employ when ignorance saturates the discussion around us.

    As additional complications are introduced to our over-loaded senses, the several compasses which once served to point our minds now lead us astray as they no longer agree, one with another.

    If the cardinal virtues served as a compasses, then substitution of a single one with a vice would suffice to cause disorder within oneself. Allow enough substitutions in enough minds, and soon disunity in a group becomes fertile ground for division

    Where there is division*, there is error.

    * No, not as in the division of labor, which made the construction of the tower of Babel possible, but the division in language, which caused its destruction.

    [yes, I know I’m babbling – to you]

    felipe (484255)

  42. It’s optional in life, there are lots of e-cars or hybrids that cost far less. We’re all about the tribe these days…and spoof or no spoof….this is one more indicator.

    No one in Santa Monica would be caught dead in a Chevy or a Ford.

    Kevin M (1ea396)

  43. “The bigger mystery for me is why a guy who is in the business of selling stuff would jump in the middle of the Twitter idiocy with both feet? It’s like Michael Jordan intentionally pissing off conservatives he wants to buy his Hanes underwear by making an ideologically-dripping comment about gun control. It’s not that Musk the businessman should forfeit his voice in the town square, but more so what exactly does he think he’s actually accomplishing?”

    His primary business is granting himself stock options in his companies that have ENORMUS POTENTIAL… and they are deeply in the money.

    Musk is as quirky as he is intelligent, so normal billionaire thinking isn’t what he is good at. Jordan is about Name, Image, Likeness and needs to have that appeal to as many as possible for ever broader returns. Musk? Paypal, Tesla, SpaceX. Pedestrian billionaires build out the Lumber and Widget Center over two decades.

    Musk has been on a solid decades long roll. Why wouldn’t he think he take on Twitter?

    Last, its funny how all the Twitter people who once dominated the hive by banning opinions, discussions (even scientific methods) that didn’t fit their narrative now are squealing like puppies pulled off the teat. Maybe that is the best laugh $27,000,000,000 can buy

    steveg (8b1c8f)

  44. Democracy Dies In The Hobbies Of Billionaires.

    nk (bb1548)

  45. The bigger mystery for me is why a guy who is in the business of selling stuff would jump in the middle of the Twitter idiocy with both feet?

    This is an oversimplification of what Musk himself seems to think he’s doing. The selling stuff is ancillary.

    He’s a challenge for a lot of people because he actually seems to be an idealist who also has a lot of money. But his idealism doesn’t line up with any of the currently acceptable versions.

    WRT Twitter; he’s said before that he thinks it would make a good platform for a combined payment and content platform.

    Sure, the Twitter cleansing fires up the culture warriors who live for handing one to libs, but I’m guessing these aren’t the same people rushing out to buy an +$80k Tesla….maybe a $25 MAGA hat.

    Ah, yes, the “rich right thinkers vs poor and unwashed wrong thinkers” narrative coupled with some “winning the culture war” mockery. This may be right. It may be that sales of Tesla’s drop off. We’ll see. I don’t see it as a given. There are some structural issues in the EV industry and the economy at large that will probably swamp that signal though.

    Again, Musk has already stated that selling Tesla’s is only a means to an end.

    Nothing Musk has said recently is especially memorable.

    Musk has released information that shows the extent that Twitter was a propaganda arm of the US IC. Given the context and what that implies about the media in general it’s more than simply memorable.

    His comments on moderation haven’t added much to the real quandary.

    If your POV is how do we effectively use moderation to control the narrative then yes, he hasn’t added much. If your POV is that we don’t need and shouldn’t have this moderation then no. It depends on what you think the “real quandary” is.

    frosty (52117f)

  46. Maybe Musk sees himself as the “Intellectual Arsenal of Democracy”.
    Why not?
    Everything he’s touched in the last years has turned into Rhodium and that is no small potato*

    *Rhodium has been measured in some potatoes with concentrations between 0.8 and 30 ppt although truth be told, its cheaper just to steal a catalytic converter from your neighbor

    steveg (8b1c8f)


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