Tweet of the Week: Elon Musk Saves Thai Children, or Does He?
Our new feature looks at the most popular tweets from the business world.
This week our Tweet of the Week has to be the controversial or inspiring (depending on which side of the fence you sit) tweet from Tesla and Space X CEO Elon Musk as he attempted to assist with the Thai Cave rescue operation by developing a mini-submarine to transport the trapped boys out of the cave. He spent the week documenting the attempts by his engineers to get the rescue which culminated in the grand delivery of the submarine to the cave itself…
Just returned from Cave 3. Mini-sub is ready if needed. It is made of rocket parts & named Wild Boar after kids’ soccer team. Leaving here in case it may be useful in the future. Thailand is so beautiful. pic.twitter.com/EHNh8ydaTT
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 9, 2018
The tweet went beyond viral and has now become the source of much discussion with some heralding Musk as a real-life Iron Man character using his billions and tech wizardry to help humanity, whereas others consider this to be a calculated PR stunt and more than a little self-aggrandising. We look at some of the best responses to the tweet and how social media reacted to Musk’s original tweet.
Originally Musk was sent a request to get involved by a relatively unknown user and as it picked up steam, Musk duly obliged…
I suspect that the Thai govt has this under control, but I’m happy to help if there is a way to do so
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 4, 2018
As the rescue mission was being co-ordinated by a series of international experts already at the cave site, Musk continued to update his 23 million followers of his endeavors…
Testing underwater in LA pool pic.twitter.com/CDO2mtjP2D
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 8, 2018
And many were grateful of Musk’s help…
That's good news. Huge thanks to @elonmusk and all of the specialists worldwide who have assisted the Thai government with this rescue. Indeed, good things can happen when people (especially people worldwide) work together. #AwesomeHumans #Thailand https://t.co/X7BbQyQN69
— Sean Gardner (@2morrowknight) July 8, 2018
You personally went to Thailand to deliver&test the emergency submarine pod your team crafted in order to help rescue the boys who are still trapped in the cave?!
& you're leavin the pod there for future use!
You go above&beyond time&time again!
You makes us all so very #proud!👍
— Phoenix Rosa (@ThePhoenixFlare) July 9, 2018
It's crazy to hear that people think he's doing this for the attention, do you honestly think the man that sent a car to space needs attention?
— TreyPenninger (@SSYGrunt) July 9, 2018
But some argued that this was more a vanity project because it was an impractical solution to a problem that had already been solved…
Gosh, feel like you need to leverage every public situation for your own aggrandizement much? You do know there are hundreds of experts already working this across multiple counties, no? #narcissism
— Dr. John Grohol (@DocJohnG) July 8, 2018
Elon Musk is making a big show of reaching for his wallet after the bill has been paid.
— John Levenstein (@johnlevenstein) July 9, 2018
elon musk's thai cave submarine is… absurd. it doesn't make any goddamn sense pic.twitter.com/ntZo2Tghv1
— chris hooks (@cd_hooks) July 9, 2018
Capitalizing on a tragedy with a publicity stunt that in no way addresses the actual problem: the Elon Musk story https://t.co/BxZPbD9LUh
— Joseph Fink (@PlanetofFinks) July 9, 2018
Elon Musk: “I have an ingenious plan to rescue the trapped boys”
Thai rescuers: “It’s okay bro we started two days ago”
Elon Musk: “A submarine with maglev turbo blast thrusters”
Rescuers: “we’ve rescued five already”
Elon Musk: “underwater galactic rescue escape pod”
— Shafik Mandhai (@ShafikFM) July 9, 2018
When reports emerged that the Thai Rescue Operations Chief had knocked back the solution and deemed it “Not Practical”, Musk responded…
The former Thai provincial governor (described inaccurately as “rescue chief”) is not the subject matter expert. That would be Dick Stanton, who co-led the dive rescue team. This is our direct correspondence: pic.twitter.com/dmC9l3jiZR
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 10, 2018
Moreover, based on extensive cave video review & discussion with several divers who know journey, SpaceX engineering is absolutely certain that mini-sub can do entire journey & demonstrate at any time.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 10, 2018
following this there were many who became frankly unimpressed with Musks interference and the Twitter jokes flowed thick and fast…
I've seen like a hundred tweets thanking Elon Musk for helping save the Thai kids and not a single one thanking me even though we contributed the exact same amount to the rescue effort
— PeterNorway (@classiclib3ral) July 9, 2018
For sale: baby submarine, never used
— Cam Hunt (@camh) July 10, 2018
elon musk tweeting about the cool submarine he’s building to rescue the kids while people are actually going into the cave and rescuing the kids, surely the most elon musk thing to happen
— j.r. hennessy (@jrhennessy) July 8, 2018
Elon Musk didn’t save the Thai soccer team, but he will put them on a Tesla waitlist.
— Conan O'Brien (@ConanOBrien) July 10, 2018
— Humans of Late Capitalism 🕊️ (@HumansOfLate) July 11, 2018
live footage of elon musk leaving thailand pic.twitter.com/h30PDLeodt
— sarah m (@sazza_jay) July 10, 2018
However on reflection, it seems some are judging Elon Musk in a more positive light, including New scientist, who were complimentary, suggesting that the negativity was over the top and that respect was due to the Tesla CEO…
Elon Musk’s submarine plan to rescue Thai cave boys deserves respect https://t.co/Z0ybpju87O pic.twitter.com/aLh8EYj4pd
— New Scientist (@newscientist) July 13, 2018
Others have used Musk’s actions as a plea for help in other areas, such as the water crisis in Flint, Michigan…
Hey @elonmusk I heard a bunch of people saying there's NO WAY you could help get clean water to Flint, Michigan. Said you wouldn't be capable idk
— Baby D (@DylanSheaMusic) July 11, 2018
And Musk has responded…
Please consider this a commitment that I will fund fixing the water in any house in Flint that has water contamination above FDA levels. No kidding.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 11, 2018
And so the world is still left guessing as to whether Elon Musk is a benevolent, inspirational humanitarian and a real life Tony Stark or a brilliant but shameless marketing genius. But the one undisputable fact is that with a Tweet that has recorded over 300 thousand likes, Musk’s social media star this week has risen and the world is once more paying attention to him and his businesses.
You can read more about Elon Musk and whether he is a true genius or a master of illusion in our special feature on the Space X and Tesla CEO here: Elon Musk – Master of Illusion.