A lot of people don’t typically like it when others get extremely excited and bombastic about something. Others, however, can be stimulated by that excitement and bombast. And the preferences are often more a matter of style than anything else.
I can understand people getting irritated by overexcited Tesla fanaticism. It sometimes turns me off, and I’m pretty high up there when it comes to love for Tesla’s mission, what it produces, and how it does things. Like I said, I think it’s often just a matter of style — how some people express their enjoyment of something — that can be irritating. As more and more people are enthused by Tesla products, there’s clearly a growing chance of “style clash” and some fans irritating other fans or non-fans.
However, I’ve noticed something else going on lately, something that seems to have increased in recent months as there’s been more enthusiasm about the Tesla Model 3, Tesla Semi, and Tesla Roadster 2. Basically, some people seem to get irritated anytime you write anything about Tesla’s advantages or counter limited or misleading criticisms of Tesla products. They quickly throw out “Tesla is a cult” and “Tesla fanboys be crazy” type of lines. It seems there’s just been a “critical mass” of sorts in sub-groups that don’t like Tesla or Tesla enthusiasm. Perhaps they’ve just been overwhelmed by it all. Perhaps they’re tired of reading and hearing the same praise over and over. Or perhaps certain taglines have just caught on and become too easy to repeat. I think it’s similar to the tendency for some people to bring comparisons to Hitler and Nazis into unrelated conversations on the interwebs. There’s now a fairly common tendency to jump into anti-Tesla fan slams whenever the opportunity arises, and to quickly throw around phrases like “cult of Elon.”
However, growing popularity and thus growing backlash doesn’t tell the full story. It’s not the only “problem” leading to these repetitive and rather counterproductive discussions. The problem — aside from some people just being oversensitive — is that they are often missing some core points. Three of those points are below.
1. Tesla products are often just better.
People like Tesla products and write good things about them because they offer new and better features. These products have broken numerous records, putting them at the top of their markets for performance, price, safety, new and advanced features, etc. People are inclined to write good things about such products, and also like to put them in the context of competitors’ products for useful comparison.
If you’re feeling offended by people writing nice things about good products and getting excited about new records and better features, you don’t have to jump to the conclusion that it’s all just an irrational cult cheering improvements on indiscriminately. Just because people like something about a product or about a company that makes good products, you don’t have to assume they are salivating and shaking in excitement at every word uttered or tweeted by the CEO. If they like something the CEO says and do get excited about it, that doesn’t indicate they are a brainless parrot and it doesn’t mean they agree with 100% of the things the CEO (Elon Musk) says. People are often just agreeing that good products are good products and smart statements are smart statements. Naturally, there are also still plenty of people who don’t agree that Tesla products are better and who don’t agree with certain statements from Elon Musk. But with so many awards, records, and third-party accolades for Tesla products, if you’re in that camp, you’re just going to find yourself in the minority end of many discussions about Tesla. Being upset by that is just going to lead to unhappiness and irritation.
You can probably avoid feelings of disgust and condemnation that you don’t enjoy simply by considering that these other humans are calmly sitting on their computers and sharing their thoughts on something they think is cool — even if they use exclamation marks and colorful words, they’re probably not jumping up and down in their seats or yelling at their computers.
Don’t think Tesla products are the best on the market? Feel free to engage, but come on, don’t be surprised when people who disagree with you throw some exclamation marks and perhaps colorful retorts into a reply on the interwebs. And if you were trolling/baiting them, don’t be surprised if they don’t respond in the most bland, boring way possible.
2. People don’t like to leave incorrect or incomplete statements lingering.
If someone is lacking context or knowledge of a product or company and makes an incorrect or misleading statement, some people who know better will be inclined to respond with a correction. When there’s a large number of people (fans) who know more about the company and product than non-fans do, yeah, there’s a greater chance that some of these people will respond in an abrasive and combative way to misinformation or incomplete information. Chalk that up to the laws of large populations and the internet. Don’t take it personally — life is too short to be upset by anonymous strangers on the internet.
Yes, some people will go into long diatribes about why Tesla’s products or the company itself are better than a critic might think. This is natural when someone feels that the other person is confused, is lacking info, or is intentionally misleading people. When you see such strong responses, is it really that there’s a cult around the company? Or is it just a matter of strong opinions based on a lot of research? Is it fanboyism? Or is it people disliking when misinformation pops up repeatedly about something they know more about? No need to get irritated or offended by highly knowledgeable people just because you didn’t spend the time learning so much about the product or company — there’s only so much time in the day and people are often just following what stimulates their own personal brain cells.
3. Tesla has a mission that hundreds of millions of people support. This is rare.
One of the differences between Tesla and, say, Ford is that Tesla’s entire mission is in response to critical problems society is facing from overuse of fossil fuels. Tesla was formed in large part to help combat global warming, and also to avoid problems from limited oil supply & oil price volatility. Its mission was so altruistic that Elon Musk even said he expected the company to go bankrupt and was mostly trying to push large automakers to accelerate their own transitions to electric vehicles.
Many people are well aware of the societal crisis we’re facing from global warming as well as the countless premature deaths caused by air pollution, so they are happy to see companies that 1) have a mission to quickly help solve these problems and 2) are hugely successful. Thus, they cheer on Tesla for the mission at its core and the progress made in that essential mission.
Similarly, Elon Musk has repeatedly risked an “unhealthy” portion of his wealth by putting it into risky efforts to improve society. For some reason, people appreciate that. (/s)
You can categorize this kind of cheerleading as cultish behavior, but that’s going to an odd extreme. The cheerleading is based on a strong, science-based understanding of crises facing humanity and Tesla’s role in not only pulling people to cleantech (to a surprisingly effective degree) but also pushing huge and powerful industries to do the same sooner rather than later. There is great appreciation for this. It is not cultish as much as it is based in science and the knowledge that we have a slim window between a somewhat slammed society and a totally crushed society.
Anyway, that’s my calm rant for the day. Do I think it will change many minds? Nah. Do I think it’ll support the important population of enthusiastic supporters who have what I think is the most important and closest to complete viewpoint of what is needed and the value Tesla provides? Yes!
The next time you face enthusiasm-downers in the comments — whether here on CleanTechnica or elsewhere — remember, they’re probably just missing one, two, or all three of the points above.