Fastest finger takes you to the hot seat

As Elon Musk has proved to the world recently, a tweet can be worth a thousand words, or in his case, millions of dollars. Of course, the Twitterati had a gala time with memes and repartee on the worth of one tweet that made the Tesla honcho lighter by 20 million dollars.

As directed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Elon Musk was asked to step down as Tesla chairman. He will continue his role as CEO of the company. He was also directed to pay a fine of $20 million. The company was also slapped with a fine of the same amount.

On August 7, 2018, Musk had posted the now-infamous tweet, saying: “Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.”

The use of 420 was supposed to be a joke about smoking marijuana, with that number being a popular term to denote the consumption of cannabis in the United States. Unfortunately for Musk and Tesla, the SEC ignored the intended humour in the tweet.

The SEC interpreted that the tweet suggested Musk would take Tesla off the stock market. The “false and misleading” claims, as the SEC called them, risked misleading investors into thinking the company already had the funding to go private.

Elon Musk will step down as chairman of Tesla for three years, starting in November. He has yet to comment on the settlement, although he later posted more disparaging tweets about the SEC itself.

In a world where your online persona is watched as closely as your real one, it is necessary how we conduct ourselves on the web or via mobile.

I know this is easier said than done. The smartphone allows you that instant trigger to say, do and regret – all in a matter of seconds.

With most business communication done over texts and emails – and juggling multiple communications, all at once – this can oftentimes make you flip – and text the wrong thing in the heat of the moment.

Of course, we all have moments that we can later regret at leisure about the way we communicated or miscommunicated with the world at large.

The key is to realise that there are two essential ingredients to this finger-happy syndrome:

One, is the moment. And the more heated it is, the more dangerous could be its implications.

The other, is the object itself – the damn phone.

Over the years, I have tried hard to divert myself from being sucked into the limitless black hole that is the heat of the moment. Sometimes, I win. Sometimes I lose – and pretty badly. But the battle continues. And I hope to conquer the moment, someday.

The other aspect is what you can do with your phone in such moments of angst. The best way is to get it out of the way and take a stroll or focus on the weightier problems of life and work – which, if you are in business, will never cease to exist.

There are times when people egg you on to respond to their emails and texts, as if the world would collapse in your inability to do so. The beast is in a class of its own. I have seen and have also experienced business relationships built over years torn to tatters in a matter of minutes – with one irate message followed by another.

Sometimes I look and marvel at some people who do not carry smart phones. I feel envious that they don’t carry the monster with them… or is the monster within us?

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