The Social Network: Should You “like” it?

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The Social Network

The Social Network"The geek shall inherit the earth.” Manohla Dargis, New York Times. The long-anticipated movie finally arrived in theaters. It is based on true events surrounding Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, and the infinite success of the first social network.

Arriving at the theater, it seemed like a much older crowd came out to see the movie. I was hoping they didn’t think this was a “How To” instructional film about how to use Facebook. But on second thought, it made perfect sense that the crowd was mostly older, as the current state of Facebook proves that more and more adults and employers are getting on Facebook and more young people are getting off because they don’t want their employers—and parents—seeing what they are really up to.

The film was actually less about the day-to-day mechanics of a user’s interaction with the social networking site and more about the whirlwind of trouble that Mark Zuckerberg got himself into with his friends and fellow students after being accused of stealing a few students’ idea about the site and wittling his best friend’s shares in the company literally down to 0.03 percent. In the movie at one point, Zuckerberg asks the Winkelvoss twins, when mulling over the original concept, “What makes this any different from MySpace or Friendster?” to which one of the twins replied, “Exclusivity.”

Exclusivity on Facebook, though seldom anymore, is what separated the site from all other social networking sites and Facebook really can be credited with the birth of social media. With Facebook, users are confident that if they choose, their privacy could be mostly protected. Every detail of social media, down to the creation of the “relationship status” was demonstrated in the film as a brilliant idea by Zuckerberg to change the way society interacts.

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Social networking today has grown far past what we see in this film; the film explores the beginning stages, where all you could upload was one main profile pic and the idea of simply posting your email address and interests; it really gives you a view of the evolution of social media and social networking. Now, through Facebook, we are able to share videos and thousands of photos and with profiles that are public, we can see information about people in 207 countries.

Social media is not even just a tool—it’s a way of life. Many of us, me included, check Facebook the first thing when we wake up and the last thing before we go to sleep. We use it to find jobs, find people we used to know, share information about classes we are taking, trade business ideas and more. Social media tells us what we want to know faster than anything else—it is an incredible source of information.

The Social Network took a dramatic approach to explaining the complexity of the site and the brilliance of Zuckerberg in possibly not coming up with the original idea for Facebook but implementing it far beyond its original conception.

The timeline of the film jumps back and forth between two litigation proceedings involving the Facebook founder(s), and chronological timeline of the inception of Facebook to show the events that led to it becoming the phenomenon that it is. I doubt that anyone has not read about the events surrounding the story beforehand, however, even after watching several pre-film release interviews and reading up on the movie, I still learned a lot about how Facebook came to be from the film. I have to imagine that certain parts were sensationalized to make the movie more watchable than the process most likely actually was (as Mark Zuckerberg claims). But then again, that’s what makes a good movie, right?

The social element portrayed in the movie is what’s really interesting. Zuckerberg had a limited actual social life but still had one, according to the film. Yet, he retreated to his dorms to create this alternate reality where people could really let the truth out so that they could socialize on a digital level. He immediately knew that creating a social network would not only be attractive to many people but would become a way of life for many. One girl in the film even describes the addictive nature of Facebook.

The actors did a remarkable job of making the viewer feel their frustration as Zuckerberg literally took over the world as a result of what they believed to be their efforts. Jesse Eisenberg somehow manages to be dislikeable, while at the same time, drawing sympathy to the character, as the movie describes him as launching the original Facebook simply to catch the attention of an ex girlfriend who ended the relationship sooner than he had wanted. Justin Timberlake portrays Sean Parker, the founder of Napster, perfectly, spewing knowledge about the most successful entrepreneurs throughout the film who are not only interesting to the viewer but egg on Eisenberg’s character to build Facebook up to be the greatest success story of the generation. The Winklevoss twins are characterized just like the Olympians who became household names long before their involvement with Facebook, and the viewer is left feeling almost bad for the twins who originally had the idea to create an exclusive site where Harvard students could socialize with only those they choose.

The drama of the litigation proceedings keeps the audience on its feet, curious to know how everything ends up for Zuckerberg, although in real life, we all know he’s worth 25 billion dollars and Facebook has 500 million members—so I think he ended up okay.

Through the story we learn that the perpetual momentum of Facebook is what made it exponentially grow the way that it did. How many of us have sat at our computers for hours on end searching for the first boy or girl who broke our hearts or looking at wedding pictures of people we’ve never met?  But the biggest question I think we all come away with in the end is “How true do they stay to the story?”

The truth of the film is debatable, and changes depending on whom you ask. The real-life Winklevoss twins told NBC’s the Today Show recently that after reading the script, the film is incredibly accurate. Mark Zuckerberg, however, has taken issue with the way his character is portrayed (why wouldn’t he? He is portrayed to be a self-serving jerk).

Summation

Facebook might have started out purely as a social media channel that was used solely for personal reasons. However, over time, it has evolved into an amazing tool for business that can be exploited in an unending manner to reach out and interact with people and to form lasting business relationships that eventually end in sales.

Whether the portrayal in the movie is mostly true and partly false, or vice versa, it is still a very entertaining and interesting film with many facts about launching a billion dollar business out of a simple idea ingrained into the characters’ speeches and the history of social media and networking over the Internet. By watching it you may not be getting an historical perspective akin to a movie about any major war or event, but nevertheless, it is a thorough, enjoyable retelling of a tool that has had a major part in shaping our society over the last several years by connecting us online.

This film would certainly be worthy of a status update saying something along the lines of “Saw The Social Network. It was awesome.” 

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Ariana S. Sheehan is a senior writer for CompuKol Communications LLC. Her writing experience encompasses online and print media. She has a great deal of experience with regularly writing for several blogs. Additionally, Mrs. Sheehan has written for several newspapers, magazines, throughout her career. Some of the topics that she has covered and continues to cover are daily events during the New York State Legislature session and articles on Business and Life. Additionally, she produced a monthly magazine for Dialogue, the in-house magazine for Organon Pharmaceuticals USA, where she wrote articles on topics ranging from reproductive health drugs to how animals positively influence people with illnesses.

Mrs. Sheehan earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Plattsburgh.

She has earned several professional awards, including the New York Press Association Better Newspaper Contest 2008—First Place for a News Story, Division 1.

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