Tesla Fandom: Terrific or Toxic?

Tesla fans gather for close up of Model S at the Shanghai Auto Show 2015. (Credit: Twitter | @Tesla)

Tesla fans are passionate people, and it does not take a very vast amount of time to realize that. The brand itself has a certain appeal to it, and those who own the company’s most elusive products, like the 2008 Roadster, have about as much passion as those who own the $35,000 Model 3 variant. People love their Tesla products forward and backward. Usually, enthusiasm for a car company lies within the diehards that “supe” their cars up or are lifelong purchasers of the same manufacturer for a lifetime. For example, some people swear by Ford trucks, so much so that they will put a sticker on their rear windshield of a cartoon urinating on a Chevrolet logo.

The toxicity of brand loyalty lies in every camp. There is a point where loving a company you openly support comes to be too much, and your passions get in the way of being a responsible human being and considering other points of view. This is something I have noticed with some Tesla fans who are willing to attack other automakers and enthusiasts of different brands, and it seems to be based on the fact that there is a disagreement on which car company is superior.

To be clear, I think that there are a lot of amazing people in this community. I, personally, have learned a lot about Tesla vehicles in my year (so far) at Teslarati. When I came into this role as a transportation writer, I had very limited knowledge, and I considered myself to be a novice in terms of what was going on in the Tesla world. I was right.

Now, I consider myself to be an expert on the topic, but I am certainly not all-knowing, and that is okay. I continue to learn a lot from the people who have surrounded me throughout my journey as a writer, and a lot of the time, it is because many influencers in this sector are supportive, smart, and genuinely nice people.

However, there is a small selection of people in the EV community that are vicious and have let their passion for an electric car company overtake their humility. I feel that a disagreement or argument every once in a while is okay. However, having these ugly communications back and forth, on what seems to be a daily basis, is what is making a bad name for the Tesla community.

Earlier this week, Complex, a popular media and lifestyle outlet, shared the news that CEO Elon Musk had become the fourth richest man in the world. When scrolling through the replies on the Tweet that was shared, I noticed someone stating that Elon “doesn’t care about anyone but himself,” and “hasn’t done anything to help humans.”

This is where I got involved, merely stating that Elon’s mission, as described in the Tesla Master Plan, was to help humans.

This person and I traded several Tweets back and forth, and it got to the point where we both realized that minds were not going to be changed. I talked about Tesla Solar, and how it is three-times less expensive than the U.S. average, Elon’s mission as a philanthropist and entrepreneur, and I also debunked a few EV myths, like Teslas are not capable of towing or hauling.

My adversary, on the other hand, never made a relevant point. It was a discussion full of red herrings, and I decided that it was likely a waste of my time to continue. It never went past 4-5 messages to each other. The conversation simply ended, nobody was blocked, nobody was called a name, communication just halted.

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This is not something that I see very often when writing articles about other car companies. Nor do I see it when someone with a sizeable following Tweets a supportive message about an up-and-coming car company. For example, when Lucid had stated it had achieved a 517-mile EPA estimated range rating, the comments were “Make a car first,” and “Who cares.” Things of that nature.

I understand the frustration with car companies always gunning for Tesla, but how is competition a bad thing? How is the fact that all of these other car companies vocally admitting that Tesla is the benchmark a bad thing? I can’t find the answer.

Yes, Lucid needs to produce a car for the public. Yes, 517 miles is a lot of range, but we do need to see it on a production vehicle that will be delivered to a customer. Those are all reasonable assessments, but why does Lucid need to be attacked? They’re making electric cars, not gas ones. Isn’t that what this whole thing is all about?

At one point, Tesla was the “new kid on the block.” It was a little known, scrappy company looking to make a name for itself. It had its fair share of problems, and it worked through them. Other car companies are experiencing the same things Tesla did years ago. But when Tesla was new and fresh, gas car enthusiasts were saying, “Who cares,” and “They should make a car that works first.” Here we are today, over a million vehicles later, and ramping up to a yearly production rate that far exceeded anyone’s wildest imagination.

Tesla’s Millionth Vehicle, a Red Model Y. (Credit: Twitter | Elon Musk)

It is almost ironic to me that the same things that came out of ICE enthusiast mouths are coming out of Tesla fan’s mouths now. The Tesla loyalty is a good thing, to an extent, but it should never outshine the fact that competition is good. It should never outshine the fact that other car companies are working on getting rid of gas-powered engines. It should never outshine the fact that the global fight against toxic carbon emissions is slowly but surely turning in our favor.

There is an old saying that goes, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say it at all.” I think many of us should remember this from time to time. If there is a disagreement with someone that occurs online, understand that points of view are rarely going to line up identically. Understand that people are going to think your opinions are ridiculous. Lastly, realize that someone disagreeing with you is an opportunity for you to expand your mind and learn something new. A conversation with someone who holds opposite opinions or points of view is sometimes the healthiest thing for the human spirit. There is a lot of evidence that suggests being around “Yes men/women” is a bad thing. Humans grow on adversity, and there is nothing worse than being around a bunch of people who you have everything in common with. Sometimes, it is helpful to mix it up and hear things that you don’t necessarily agree with.

So next time you catch someone online, and they’re saying something that seems to challenge your beliefs, take a minute and think about what they are saying. Does it make sense, or is their idea full of misleading and incorrect information? In the case of the short conversation I had earlier this week, I recognized that what this person was saying was false based on Elon’s merit and what he has done for the world thus far in his career.

Don’t block or put someone on blast because they said something controversial to you. I would imagine a healthier way to end the conversation is to simply say, “I disagree with you, but I respect your opinion.” Calling someone names is childish, and stooping to the level they are taking if they begin calling you names makes you no better than they are. There’s a reason that it is called “taking the high road.”

Tesla’s mission is about sustaining life as we know it on Earth, or perhaps, on Mars. However, if we do not learn to cherish and respect views that differ from our own, our civilization will never make it. Breaking through boundaries and listening to points of view that are not necessarily on par with what we believe is sometimes the best thing for us. Even if you leave a conversation thinking, “That person has no clue what they’re talking about,” there are a series of benefits. You walked away respectfully. You learned that you and that person aren’t compatible. Lastly, you realized that there are people in the world that are the polar opposite to you. Those are just a few that come to mind.

I find it extremely important, especially at such a trying time in our world, that we respect one another as best as we can. Whether you’re a Tesla fan, Rivian fan, or a Lucid fan, be kind to one another. We are all in this together, and the push toward sustainable transportation is growing due to the efforts of each and every one of the companies that decided to manufacture EVs.

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Tesla Fandom: Terrific or Toxic?
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