The Social Network

I finally got around to watching The Social Network on Wednesday (flex day). I was somewhat interested in watching this movie because 1) I use Facebook 2) it is based on reality 3) it is about an entrepreneur. I’ve never been a reader of biographies, but I am interested in finding out where the big names, such as Facebook, Apple, Google, Coca Cola, all came from.

Maybe this movie is like an origins movie. Like Wolverine Origins…

The Social Network

The Social Network was a movie I had reserved and picked up at the library, without actually much idea of what the story was. As simple as it was, all I knew was: this is the story of how Facebook was created.

As the movie started playing and I got pulled along in its story, I admit that I was quite compelled all the way through. Unlike other movies, where I tended to read the DVD back for the length of the movie and then keep an eye on the ticking numbers on my DVD player, I had no such cares. It was a Wednesday afternoon. I was home with nothing else to do.

Mark Zuckerberg is written to be an interesting character. In one way, I cheered him on in his defiance of Harvard; his lines are sharp and cutting enough to watch, though I wouldn’t like to be on the receiving end of it. In other scenes, I was appalled by his lack of respect for his only friend, Eduardo.

He is likeable and pitiable in his social awkwardness and need for social inclusion (he craves a sense of exclusivity, which he then creates in Facebook). He is admirable in his intelligence and wit. But he is also unlikeable in his callousness.

The movie poses an interesting question to us: in our ambition to create something great, to find success, and to make a difference – when does the sacrifice of loyalty and friendship (if ever) become acceptable?

For Mark and for the audience, it was realistic, although sad, to admit that Eduardo’s efforts to find advertisers were not met with many successes. When our friends are falling behind in failure, but we are shooting ahead with successes – how long can we hold back to wait? Forever? In a business environment, perhaps we would have done what Mark did – and pushed forward towards financial success (and sadly social isolation).

I think, in some way, I definitely empathised with Mark’s desire for Eduardo to “get onboard” and not get “left behind” . However, I completely disagreed with his approach to handling Eduardo. Rather than speaking as friends, he subverted Eduardo’s claim and contribution to Facebook; he traded in Eduardo’s honesty for Sean Parker’s flattery.

In Mark, I think we see a very interesting character to consider for the HSC Belonging area of study.

Mark Zuckerberg: I’m just saying I need to do something substantial in order to get the attention of the clubs.

Erica Albright: Why?

Mark Zuckerberg: Because they’re exclusive. And fun. And they lead to a better life.

We relate to and pity his desire for social acceptance. He perceives belonging as exclusivity and status, which is held by the Phoenix club. The creation of Facebook is Mark’s attempt to simulate the exclusivity and “cool” of the club, by creating an online society, which is at first only accessible via invitation. This is no more clearer than in his reactions to Eduardo’s initiation into the Phoenix club. Like any fallible human, Mark is envious of his friend’s social success.

Mark’s desire for belonging and acceptance is shown to be the ultimate driver in his actions throughout the movie. His rejection by Erica and the Phoenix club spur him to create his own social group in which he is the centre and has control:

Mark Zuckerberg: Wardo, it’s like the Final Club except we’re the president.

Ultimately, this artificial social group turns out to be arguably unrewarding; what we see in the final scene is a young man, alone and looking for c0nnection. Most importantly, in his bid for belonging (through exclusivity and status), he failed to see the value in his closest relationship (that to Eduardo). He fails to perceive their friendship as its own form of belonging and acceptance, and sacrifices that for the allure of Facebook’s fame and fortune.

Although I have largely written about Mark’s failures, I do not mean to say that I would not have done the same – that anyone would not have done the same. The Social Network struck me in that it portrays out humanity very well – it portrays our sometimes pathetic need for belonging and acceptance from others, our inherent selfishness and pursuit for glory/success, and our willingness to injure those closest to us in order to satisfy our own needs. Despite his intelligence, genius, wit, astuteness, Mark Zuckerberg is human – and that is key to what, I felt, was the captivating aspect of the movie.

Did you enjoy it as much?

4 comments for “The Social Network

  1. Claudia
    June 29, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    what do you think of the social network as an ORT for conflicting perspectives?

  2. Sylvia Pan
    September 29, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    would it be a good related text for history and memory?

    • tutortales
      October 6, 2012 at 3:36 pm

      It has some relevant points, but I don’t think it explores enough about actual history/memory. TT

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