It’s a tricky question, I know, because I’m not really interested in the differences, to be honest. I’m interested in the only thing they have in common, and that is: they’re both made up characters. They don’t exist in the sense they appear to be existing.
Don’t get me wrong, there is a person somewhere on this Earth called Elon Musk, that owns and runs a few companies, like Space X and Tesla, a person who make judgements, some of them good, some of them bad, who eats, shits, breathes and, if he doesn’t shower, stinks. On the other hand, there is a character known as “Elon Musk”, who appears to create wonders by saving the planet with electric cars, sending humanity to Mars or connecting brains with computers, and the overwhelming majority of people are overlapping this character onto the first person.
At any Christmas party there is someone playing Santa Claus. He wears a beard, a red costume and a bag full of presents. Everybody (except some of the kids) know that he isn’t really Santa Calus, he’s Jim, or Andrew, or whatever he’s called in real life, but for the sake of the holidays, everybody plays along and pretend he really is Santa Claus.
That’s what I mean by “they don’t exist in the sense they appear to be existing”.
Now, here’s where it gets interesting.
We only play along with Santa Claus during Christmas. It’s a finite context. After that, Jim, or Andrew, or whatever he’s called, becomes Jim or Andrew again. We won’t even talk about Santa Claus until the next Christmas.
Whereas with Musk, well, we tend to play along this game day in and day out. We maintain this illusion (and he, the real person, not the character, is very interested in us maintaining this illusion) without any boundaries, within an endless context. We don’t get up at the end of the day and say: “Ok, that’s it, I know this Elon Musk who wants to save the world is just a person, and he really doesn’t have magic powers, and he’s probably just as greedy and as limited as any other human, so now I’ll stop playing along”. Nope, on the contrary. We blow even more air into this illusion.
Until, every once in a wile, the balloon pops out. And we finally get to see the person Elon Musk, just like when the beards falls of a little and we see the familiar face of Jim (or Andrew). There were a few situations in the past when this happened, but the most recent is probably the most telling. It happened yesterday.
After Elon Musk, the character, propped Bitcoin (and a shitty crypto project, called Dogecoin) for a few months, hinting that this is the most revolutionary thing ever, and that, “in hindsight, it was inevitable”, he just said, a few hours ago, that Tesla will stop accepting BTC for its cars. The reason: BTC is “bad for the environment”. Now, some things are surely bad for the environment and we, as a species, we should do a lot more in this direction. But BTC is way, way less toxic than the rest of the other things that humans do, from fracking to illegal ocean fishing. It’s not even comparable. I’m surprised I even have to bring this on the table, that’s how easy is to see it.
Well, it’s easy to see it if you’re not biased, or, as in Elon Musk’s case, if you’re not at the intersection of many, many interests. Elon Musk, the man, just runs a business and he needs to sell cars (we’re talking only Tesla here). If a significant part of his potential audience is alienated, he will sell less cars. As simple as that. So, if the “woke” part of his audience rises the eyebrow, accusing him, in the well-known aggressive and abusive “woke” style, that he is endangering the environment, he simply has no choice but to give in. He will change his narrative in a second, because his business needs clients, and he is not a magical character.
He is just a person. At the end of the day, he must take of his “Elon Musk” suit, just like Jim (or Andrew) takes of his fake beard, and get back to his normal, human, day to day life, in which he has to provide for his family.
Only he has to provide for a lot more than his family, there are a few investor boards who are actively watching him, there is the SEC ready to accuse of market manipulation at the slightest misstep, there is a lot at stake.
So, there is no Santa Claus, and there is no Elon Musk.