Lonely with 500 million friends
The Social Network is one of the most interesting movies released recently. It is based on the creation of Facebook and how programmer Mark Zuckerberg became the world’s youngest billionaire.
The film is a mixture of fact and fiction. It’s often difficult to differentiate between the two. But it is certainly a movie to make you think about topics like success and relationships.
The tagline of the movie is
You don't get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies. Zuckerberg was a lonely guy with a handful of friends before he generated the Facebook phenomenon. He lost even the few friends he had as Facebook became hugely successful.
Zuckerberg is portrayed as socially inept, apathetic and preoccupied with programming. While he shuffles around Harvard University in a hoodie, jeans, sandals and socks, he uses conversations to inspire ideas for Facebook.
Susceptible to influence
The movie suggests that Zuckerberg’s social shortcomings made him susceptible to influence by Sean Parker, the creator of Napster. It was the gregarious Parker that seemed to encourage Zuckerberg to turn on his friends. Zuckerberg is also portrayed as obsessed by elite Harvard clubs. Developing Facebook gave him the notoriety he seemed to crave.
My favourite line of the movie was from the film’s first scene. Zuckerberg is dumped by his girlfriend in a bar.
You're going to go through life thinking that girls don't like you because you're a nerd, she says.
I want you to know, from the bottom of my heart, that that won't be true. It'll be because you're an a***hole. The line was pertinent through many scenes in the movie, right to the end. The film ends with a seemingly lonely Zuckerberg sending a Facebook friend request to his former girlfriend.
A popularity contest
The movie made me think about how social networks aren't separate to one's “real life”. Both often seem like a popularity contest. Elitism is also rife. The term
Facebook me easily slotted into peoples' vocabulary within weeks of Facebook's launch.
The film also reiterated about the importance of being discreet online. After Zuckerberg was dumped he wrote disrespectful comments about his former girlfriend on his blog. When he tried to apologise some months later, she reminded him that content on the internet is not written in erasable pencil. I was reminded to be nice to people. Treat them well. Nastiness and deceit will come back to haunt you.
The biggest realisation I had during the movie was that anything is possible if you put your mind to it. Facebook started off as a small university website. It now has more than 500 million users world-wide. The uptake has been astonishing. I now wonder whether there will be another thing in my lifetime that becomes so popular so fast?
The Social Network is out now on DVD.