The Social Network
“The Internet is not written in pencil, it’s written in ink” says the outraged character of Erica Albright, Mark Zuckerberg’s ex and supposed catalyst for the the site which would eventually turn into Facebook. Many people would do well to observe this quote. It would seem similarly true for film as well. Whether the portrayal of the founding of Facebook in the movie “The Social Network” is accurate or not, this engaging film is pleasantly debatable. Was Zuckerberg just some asshole trying to get back at his social superiors and the girl who dumped him? Was he a brilliant genius savant who has no time for societal niceties? Was he a ruthless, and therefore successful entrepreneur?
The continual underpinning driver seems to be Zuckerberg’s desire to become a member of exclusive, elite University clubs. It emerges several times in key scenes and we question whether his cold dismissal of co-founder and then “best friend” Eduardo Saverin is indeed jealousy for having been invited to these clubs or nothing but vicious determination.
The context is beautifully set up. What Facebook has successfully done today is challenge existing social structures. How many friends can you have? Are they real friends? What commonalities do you need to consider someone a friend, What’s socially appropriate online — a whole new set of questions and rules of etiquette brought about by his creation. In the movie, his world was wholly concerned with established social institutions - a world where “social structure was everything”. If his motivation was indeed to get back at this structure, he has found the perfect revenge.
Other noteables include co-founder Saverin who was depicted as the supportive friend who would eventually become the ultimate victim, and the Machiavellan Sean Parker (founder of Napster and still shareholder of Facebook) who was shown to be a self-centred, sociopathic but savvy businessman who pushed Zuckerberg to move to Palo Alto.
The movie provides an interesting perspective on something that touches many of us daily, both personally and professionally. It’s compelling viewing finding out how something so prevalent started out. Was Facebook really just a kneejerk fuck you of a bruised nerdy ego? If only the rest of us were so similarly proficient in turning hurt feelings into a billion-dollar global empire. Whatever the case, I found the movie fundamentally…sad. Sad that something that facilitates so many new relationships was grounded in destructive ones. The movie tagline “You don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies” rings true. All of a sudden I feel pretty good about my 400-odd list.