Elon Musk isn’t simply the gifted engineer who launched four billion-dollar companies into the stratosphere. This much is clear for anyone who’s paid attention to his Internet presence, which may indeed be choreographed. There are simply too many stories about Musk’s cutthroat persona, including his fantastically fierce meeting tactics, to think that these things don’t surface without encouragement from the maker. Yet he’s also sharply funny, as evidenced by his obsession with Rick and Morty and response to a trolling humanoid robot, so one gets the feeling that Musk may in fact be … human?
Yes. The man behind the making of Tesla, SpaceX, PayPal and Solar City is not unlike many of us in certain ways. Even as Tesla’s newly unveiled semi truck is now making headlines, Musk’s new Rolling Stone profile may tear you to pieces, and you’ll thank it. Beyond discussing his quest to build that $35,000 electric car that might drive other manufacturers to competitively start ditching gas cars, the piece gets dark when Musk becomes confessional. He vents over his recent breakup with Amber Heard, which has devastated him, and things grow messy when Musk asks for dating advice:
Musk discusses the breakup for a few more minutes, then asks, earnestly, deadpan, “Is there anybody you think I should date? It’s so hard for me to even meet people.” He swallows and clarifies, stammering softly, “I’m looking for a long-term relationship. I’m not looking for a one-night stand. I’m looking for a serious companion or soulmate, that kind of thing.”
The interviewer, Neil Strauss, may have felt like he entered an alternate dimension, and Musk continues to discuss how he “cannot be happy” unless he’s in a long-term commitment, even after multiple failed marriages and his latest breakup. Strauss points out that this pattern shows “textbook codependence” — essentially losing one’s own identity to the point where only approval within a relationship eases that pain. To that, Musk responds with “petulant” denial while affirming that definition to perfection:
“I will never be happy without having someone. Going to sleep alone kills me.” He hesitates, shakes his head, falters, continues. “It’s not like I don’t know what that feels like: Being in a big empty house, and the footsteps echoing through the hallway, no one there – and no one on the pillow next to you. F*ck. How do you make yourself happy in a situation like that?”
There’s truth to what Musk is saying. It is lonely at the top. But not for everyone. It’s lonely at the top for those who were lonely at the bottom.
“When I was a child, there’s one thing I said,” Musk continues. His demeanor is stiff, yet in the sheen of his eyes and the trembling of his lips, a high tide of emotion is visible, pushing against the retaining walls. “‘I never want to be alone.’ That’s what I would say.” His voice drops to a whisper. “I don’t want to be alone.”
Further down in the profile, Musk spirals into an emotional discussion that somehow manages to transcend the usual “lonely at the top” cliche. The man never does anything halfway, and he confesses the roots of what’s likely, yes, a codependent upbringing. He details how abandoned he felt and how he was raised by “books” and a preoccupied housekeeper while his parents were, well, elsewhere. Tears begin to roll down Musk’s face while he reveals how his father (Errol, also a brilliant engineer) has done “almost every evil thing you could possibly think of,” including allegedly abuse his own son.
Strauss notes that Musk appears to want to share more about his father’s actions, which are “so terrible, you can’t believe it.” Yet he refrains, while the entire profile remains a source of thought-provoking wonder. Nowhere does Musk appear to have manufactured anything that he says, but clearly, his interview was designed with a purpose. That’s simply how these pieces work. The explanation could be as simple as “Elon Musk is human, not a cyborg,” and if so, that mission was duly accomplished.
(Via Rolling Stone)