Some of his fans' devotion is downright astounding. According to The Verge's article, an artist named Salina Gomez once tweeted: "I literally tried to kill myself in March of 2017 and ended up with a few broken ribs and lots of hospitalization. Learning about Tesla was literally the only thing that kept me getting out of bed every day."
Gomez didn't stop at a tweet. She started writing a book called Tweeting Me Softly, illuminating Musk's tweets as a showcase of the visionary's work as art.
Granted, Gomez is an exception to the rule -- and Musk has plenty of vocal detractors -- but the refrain from his devotees seems to crowd out critical noise: "He wants to save humanity," they chime. And, for that, he is worthy of the Pantheon.
Then, there's Mark Zuckerberg. Much like Musk, he turned an idea into a multibillion-dollar company and has changed the face of global engagement and interaction forever.
But instead of spending copious amounts of ink on his forward-thinking social strategies or the impact of Facebook on our now hyperconnected world, we like to highlight his many Achilles' heels.
As Jason Aten wrote on Inc.com, criticism of the social media giant is never in short supply -- targeting his lackadaisical approach to security and privacy, his problem with truth-telling, and his delusional impression that Facebook doesn't have quite so many problems as the public thinks it does.
Perhaps most egregious, though, is his history of on-mic brags about duping the public to further his own gain -- and his tone-deaf responses to outcries over Facebook missteps.
Business Insider chronicled several of these: From an early-days boast about information collection ("I don't know why ... they 'trust me' ... dumb f*cks") to a condescending "Calm down. Breathe. We hear you" blog post about Facebook's News Feed algorithm.
That's not to say Musk is never caught with his pants down. I wrote about one such incident recently. But there isn't a storm of rabid responses to these moments. No; instead, fans keep coming back to his visionary future for a better humanity.
In essence, then, it seems this difference of opinion is derived from vision -- and commitment to that vision. We can see the connection between self-driving cars and a safer future where the quality of life is improved. We can hardly do the same with a company that treats our personal data with about as much respect as a disposable diaper.
I'll take it a step further. For Musk, the vision is not corporate -- it's rooted in the deeply held belief that science and technology, if fully exploited, can make our lives better. For Zuckerberg, there is hardly a vision at all, save for occasional corporate exploitation.
No wonder that shareholders at Facebook once wanted Zuckerberg out, and Musk is still prized among the tech gods as a flawed but thoroughgoing visionary.