And? I Just. Don’t. Care. And You shouldn’t either.
This is not an attempt to belittle the journalistic prowess of the writers over at The Verge, but how exactly does knowing that Elon Musk, who appears to be a world-class weirdo, is the richest person “on earth” add to my life? Now, this may sound like the bitter ramblings of an individual who can’t even spell net worth, but hear me out. Why is this news? Now, I can understand why a website like TheVerge, would be covering Elon Musk, and Jeff Bezos, both of their companies through the use of technology have helped revolutionize both the retail and automotive industries respectively. But a quick Google search and you’ll find stories on TheGuardian, CNBC, Reuters, Times of India, and BBC News, to name a few. Pretty much all of the stories attribute this “monumentally important achievement” to the increase in Tesla’s share price, which pushed his net worth to more than $185 billion. For reference (I know you care) Jeff Bezos is currently worth around $184 billion. CNBC.Com states that Musk started 2020 worth a paltry amount of $27 billion, making him barely in the top 50 of the world’s richest people.
What does knowing the top 50 richest people in the world mean to me? Absolutely, nothing. Unless I’m one of them. Even then, knowing the wealth of any other individual besides my own means nothing. It’s not important. It feels a tad bit invasive. Think about it. How would you, the “average” individual feel about the whole world knowing how much, you are or aren’t worth? There it is, displayed for all to see. The value of your home, (including the address), the value of your car(s), your property, listed, tallied up, and reported as news for the entire world to see. I’d be petrified, mortified, and perhaps a little embarrassed. But the biggest question I’d have is: what’s it to you?
And that’s my problem with knowing that Elon Musk is now one of the richest people in the world. The fact that we care. Is there no privacy? Is nothing sacred? What gives us the right to know and report on the inner workings of someone’s finances? Even if that person is the CEO of a billion-dollar company. Voyeurism and Sensationalism. Those are the terms that come to my mind. Where is the integrity?
Journalism and reporting exist to inform and contribute information to the world. Because of this responsibility, reporting should maintain a certain moral standard. Including information that intrudes on a private citizen’s right to be private, such as their net worth brings a level of intrusiveness that is entirely unnecessary. We exist in a world where you can have access to any type of entertainment, or media you want. But when we spend our time engorging ourselves on personal information about these private individuals, people who we don’t know personally, and who certainly didn’t ask for such information to be public, what does that make us? Why is it relevant? Ask yourself that question. Why is this relevant? Why do I have a right to know this? Why do I need to know this? Take a look at the answers to the aforementioned questions, I’m sure you won’t like them.
Youtube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, or whatever medium you choose to use to share aspects of your life with the world, or whoever your intended audience is, this is where the voyeurism should begin and end. Because when you post that story, that photo, that video, you are choosing to invite the reader, listener, viewer into your world. You are choosing to share a piece of yourselves, for whatever reason that is.
And if I choose to view, and be entertained, then so be it. And if Elon Musk wants to tell the world how much money is in his bank account through one of these mediums, then so be it. It’s his right as a private citizen, to share his personal information. But remember, it’s his right, not the right of the voyeuristic journalist.
I recognize the irony in saying I don’t care about how much Elon Musk is worth and writing a whole post in fact about that. But I hope you recognize the bigger point here. I really don’t care, and you shouldn’t either. It’s not our business, it should indeed be a private matter. Perhaps if we stop clicking the headlines, these news outlets and journalists will get that. And get back to reporting what matters, such as widespread poverty, gender wage gaps, climate change, and our government’s response or lack thereof to these issues. As for me? I’ve committed to giving them one less view.
Thanks for Listening.