Watched the Social Network tonight. Good movie. And I don’t mean that in the “I was really entertained and laughed alot” way. The whole movie tests the fields of ethics and choices and it’s a very interesting piece to watch.
I don’t know how much truth there is to all of the events – after all, movie writers tend to “tweak” certain plot points to make certain people more interesting or create completely fictitious events just because they are good cinema. But at one point tonight I asked myself, if he had it to do all over again, would Mark Zuckerberg change anything about the way he went about creating Facebook?
The whole movie begins with a rather unpleasant break-up between Mark and his girlfriend, Erica. Mark is excessively socially awkward and his behavior borders on heartless and rude. On top of that, he’s obsessing over these exclusive clubs that are present on the Harvard campus and it’s very obvious that he desperately wants to be invited to join one. As a result of getting dumped, Mark gets drunk and posts some really horrid comments about Erica on his blog. Then he creates a website that, within the course of two hours, alienates most of the female population at Harvard (where Zuckerberg is a student) and crashes the Harvard server. The site allowed people to compare two Harvard co-eds side by side and choose the prettiest one. He got the pictures by hacking into the resident student photo galleries of the dorms on campus. Again, a big no-no.
Most of the story is told in a series of flashbacks. Mark is being sued by his (former)best friend who helped him co-found Facebook (before a series of events and other influences ran said friend out of the company) and is facing a second suit from three members of an exclusive Harvard club who claim that the idea for Facebook was really theirs since they had asked Zuckerberg to create a sort of dating website that would be exclusive to the Harvard student body. As one of the characters calls it “match.com for Harvard students.” It’s not really much of a surprise when his lawyers advise him to settle. And what is Mark doing when he finds out that settling is in his best interest? He is on Facebook where he proceeds to send a friend request to Erica. Remember her? The ex-girlfriend from the opening scene? As the ends of the various threads of the story are shown on the screen, we find that he did indeed settle in both lawsuits and that he is the youngest billionaire in the world. What is Zuckerberg doing the whole time these details are flashing on the screen? He’s refreshing the computer, waiting to see if Erica accepts his friend request.
At the end of the movie, he has lost his best friend and completely alienated his ex-girlfriend and really has no one that he seems particularly close to. He’s trying to make amends to Erica although it seems that the attempt will be fruitless. He’s worth billions and he doesn’t seem to care. And there’s a part of me that wonders if Facebook came about simply because one ridiculously gifted, socially awkward college student just wanted a place where he could belong without others deciding whether or not to let him through the door! 500 million Facebook members later, I hope he finally feels like he belongs.