New York Times contributing editor Jessica Bennett was the latest media pundit who called out Elon Musk’s demand for a new “extremely hard core” workspace for Twitter employees.
Bennett described Musk’s original email sent out to employees as “The Worst Midnight Email From the Boss, Ever” on Monday and lamented it as “a prepandemic mind-set” that only appeals to “a few workaholics” and bosses.
“But Mr. Musk, with his union-busting record and his ruthless firing of those who disagree with him, is like a boss on steroids about this stuff, and his embrace of ‘extremely hard core’ isn’t just out of step with the national mood; it’s revealing about an old model of leadership we’re trying to move on from,” Bennett wrote.
Bennett also condemned Musk’s use of the term “hard core,” suggesting it’s better associated with “graphic pornography” than a workspace.
“‘Hard core’ may be a term more often associated with graphic pornography, mosh pits or, when used as a noun, people resistant to change, but it’s a linguistic favorite of Mr. Musk’s. He’s used it to refer to his SpaceX efforts and employees’ need to work harder to control costs at Tesla (another company he famously slept on the floor of) and as part of a recruitment effort for corporate litigators — er, ;hard core street fighters.’ But most of these, of course, were in the hard-core days of our pre-Covid lives, back when ‘girlboss’ was still a compliment and the idea that ‘nobody ever changed the world on 40 hours a week’ — another Muskism — was (mostly) applauded,” Bennett wrote.
One week prior, Musk previously emailed, “Going forward, to build a breakthrough Twitter 2.0 and succeed in an increasingly competitive world, we will need to be extremely hard core. This will mean working long hours at high intensity. Only exceptional performance will constitute a passing grade.”
Several liberal commentators and media figures criticized this sentiment, claiming that Musk was creating a “toxic” work environment. Former New York Times reporter Steven Greenhouse lamented that Musk was turning Twitter into a “hellscape for workers.”
Bennett ended her article suggesting that the term “hard core” may better apply to the employees Musk fired following the email rather than the ones who remained.
“I was up late the other night thinking about that midnight ‘hard core’ email, which led me down a midnight rabbit hole into the word’s origins. (Mr. Musk would be proud!) I was surprised to learn that one of the oldest uses of ‘hard core,’ as cited in the Oxford English Dictionary, is as a noun to refer to people who are persistently (or hard core) unemployed,” she closed. “Does that actually make Mr. Musk’s now unemployed former workers the most hard core?””
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