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Don’t let the Zuckerberg-Musk cagefight nonsense distract from the real issues

Media need to focus on what’s happening at Twitter and Meta, not a ludicrous fight that was never likely to happen

Few things in the history of technology have crushed the very fibres of my being as severely as the announcement this week that the Elon Musk/Mark Zuckerberg cage fight is off.

I jest, of course. Is there any more mind-numbingly stupid ongoing tech industry “story” in any Metaverse, universe, or galaxy full of guardians (as if any would ever feature either Zuckerberg or Musk among the superhero line-up)? Who but Elon fanboys did anything but laugh out loud at the idea of a Musk-Zuckerberg cage fight? Bitter mirth, followed swiftly by a terrifying mental image of what such a fight might involve in terms of tech billionaire spandex and/or shorts. If ever there were a TMI moment in tech, that was it for me.

But seriously (okay, I accept that ‘seriously’ is the wrong word choice here). How did this ridiculous social media wittering – surely always a joke between tech bros – get taken as an actual story to be followed breathlessly by media outlets? At least the latest update comes during the bona fide August silly season, but this started months ago and has been covered by the media as if it would ever be an actual thing.

To watch the personification of two struggling social networks and poor business decisions duke it out – and mixed martial arts (MMA) rules allow punches to the face with just light gloves – is the perfect recipe for being owned by a visual metaphor. It’s the equivalent of politicians agreeing to the kind of woeful photo opportunity that makes them look so ridiculous that it immediately deflates their election prospects. This would be comical in the actual meaning of the word. But so dumb, so lame that no one would ever cosplay cage-fight-Zuckerberg or cage-fight-Musk at ComicCon except as an ironic joke.


At first, when Musk challenged Zuckerberg (oh yes, of course it had to be Musk, the man that apparently has so little to do in real life that he thinks up this stuff), I assumed we’d all laugh joylessly and move on to, say, looking at Twitter’s bottom line or running-on-empty staffing or bitcoin- selling blue tick boyos and wonder what else Musk had on his mind. By “we”, here, I mean the media.

A fight would be silly. It’s so high school and banal. Whatever Elon is doing here is far removed from his immediate tasks

—  Musk senior

But alas, no. In the time since, story after story has covered each additional social media post relating to the cage fight as if Zuckerberg and Musk were saying something of significance about corporate financials or strategy or anything remotely newsworthy. Covering the back and forth between the two might be fine if reported in a tone expressing a gigantic eye roll, but no – each new instalment, from syndicated news agencies to major media organisations, has been to take each utterance as seriously as a company earnings report.

Even when the latest update is as mind-numbingly boneheaded as Musk suggesting a practice fight in Zuckerberg’s backyard, and another pushing Italy and the Colosseum as a perfect “epic” setting for this jackassery. Instead of just sighing in exasperation that this exchange is still going on, and on, and on, instead there are further serious pieces about whether Musk ever intended to fight and how Zuckerberg, who does martial arts (WHO CARES!? Honestly! Who. Actually. Cares) has tried to schedule it.

For crying out loud. And yes, I’m at that point. Does anyone think either of them ever intended to engage in a cage fight? That the boring social media post back and forth was ever anything more than the billionaire verbal sparring equivalent of the stale sense of humour both have demonstrated in the past?

But wait. In an ending perfectly suited to this tedious, juvenile episode, Elon Musk’s father – his FATHER – has now had enough and stepped in, like some exasperated dad retrieving his son from the headmaster’s office after being suspended for lying and irritating behaviour in class. Dad Errol Musk told the US edition of the Sun what every journalist writing about this should have recognised from the start: that the whole thing was Elon drawing some attention to flailing Twitter/ X (duh) and was a “high school”-ish publicity stunt.

“A fight would be silly. It’s so high school and banal. Whatever Elon is doing here is far removed from his immediate tasks,” said Musk senior.

Finally, an adult in the room! Maybe Zuck, Musk, and journalists everywhere are at last ready to graduate from high school to attend the University of the Bleeding Obvious. But I can’t believe we actually needed a dad intervention to, one prays, bring this pathetic episode to a close.

Meanwhile, I am going to spend the rest of August repeating my new mantra, “oh please let the cage fight trash talk be over, oh please let the cage flight trash talk be over” until summer ends and we move on to the real cage fight: the autumn quarterly financial earnings reports from certain social media companies.