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Alternating Currents: Don’t make your car your entire personality

Choosing what car you drive says a lot about who you are as a person and what things you value. Maybe you chose your car to be a unique extension of who you are. Maybe you chose your car because you wanted to flex on fools or show off your wealth or because it was comfortable or because you like how fun it is or how environmentally friendly it is. No matter what reason you chose for your purchase, it’s a big part of who you are and was heavily influenced by your personality. I don’t know which of you needs to hear this, but your car is not a replacement for a personality. 

I mention this because some of you have decided to make ‘owning a Tesla’ the only thing about you that matters. This isn’t a new phenomenon, and it isn’t specific to Teslas, obviously. We’ve all met the New Balance-shod Boomer who wears his Corvette ownership on his Heartbeat Of America emblazoned sleeve, or the Mustang Man, or the Porsche Prick, or the Bimmer Bro. Their singular automotive obsession doesn’t make them more interesting, or better in any way.

Part of Tesla’s success has been its ability to leverage its customers as its free marketing squad. The Tesla zealots spend so much of their time trying to convince friends, family, and occasionally strangers that Fremont builds the best cars in the world. Getting butts in seats is difficult for a small automaker like Big T, and its customers pushing everyone they know to get one of their own feels like a pyramid scheme with zero stakes and a worse payoff. I know we aren’t going to parties right now, but when they do come back, please work on your conversation skills and talk about anything else. 

If you’re a fresh Tesla owner, don’t fall into the trap. There’s no reason for you to become an Elon reply guy, or to shout down anyone saying anything remotely critical of the brand as sowing FUD. No matter what you have been led to believe, you don’t have to buy the S3XY booty shorts or the flame thrower or the tequila or Dogecoin or whatever cash grab garbage Musk is hawking this week. It’s entirely possible to be a normal person about your car, or even an enthusiastic fanatic about your car, without rising to the level of making the car your personality. 

Tesla builds fine cars. I really like them as daily transportation. Everything that is good about them is pretty good. There certainly are downsides to Tesla ownership, but most of them can be ignored because of how positively competent the cars are. Tesla, in its short life span thus far in the market, has cultivated a fan base several orders of magnitude more toxic and off-putting than Porsche or Harley-Davidson. 

In order to be a fully-formed human, you need to have a multifaceted personality. If you focus all of your energies on just one thing, you’ll succumb to it and people will no longer find you interesting. Even Elon has hobbies beyond Tesla. I mean, he certainly doesn’t have a healthy or fully-formed sense of self, but at least his ridiculous conversations with Joe Rogan aren’t four hours about one topic. 

I don’t say any of this without at least aiming some of this advice back at my own damn self. I haven’t made any specific car my personality, but cars as a topic is definitely all I’ve got. I am a Porsche owner, but I’m not a Porsche guy. I am a Nissan Leaf owner, but I certainly haven’t made that my whole self. I ride motorcycles, but I’m not a biker. That said, I recognize that I live, eat, sleep, breathe motors and transportation. Driving, racing, wrenching, all of it, that’s me. In my leisure time I watch other people have fun with cars on one of the 300+ YouTube channels I subscribe to for hours at a time. 

By soaking up every bit of automotive knowledge that I can sponge into my brain, I’ve been forced to forget some important things like mathematics, most prewar history, and pretty much all of the four years of Mandarin Chinese I learned in college. Don’t be like me, you can dig yourself out of the Tesla hole and retain normal person information. Study popular culture, read books and magazines about things that aren’t cars, unfollow Elon on Twitter, and you’ll pull through. People will want to talk to you at parties again. I believe in you.

Written by Bradley Brownell
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