The Social Network: Film Review

 The Social Network (i.e. ‘the facebook film) is not about money, power, greed or even Mark Zuckerberg himself, it is ultimately about acceptance – the need for acceptance that is in every one of us.

The film starts with Mark Zuckerberg, played by Jesse Eisenberg sitting in a bar with his girlfriend Erica Albright (Rooney Mara). The opening scenes of the film concentrates on the difference between obsession and motivation with Mark consumed with the longing for membership to the most exclusive all male societies of Harvard, known as ‘final clubs’. His obsession leads to a break up with Erica and he later vents his frustration and perceived betrayal through the Internet.

Soon afterwards the 6’5” stong, athletic, blonde and popular  Winklevoss twins (Armie Hammer and Josh Pence) come into play, who are everything Mark is looking for: members of the Porcellian “final club”, and rich with inherited money. It is clear from the outset of the film and through his break-up with Albright  that Mark Zuckerberg craves the attention of such ‘powerful’ members of the Harvard community.

The twins invite Mark to a meeting at the Porcellian Club and encourage him to join them on their business venture: a social networking site exclusively for members with a Harvard university e-mail address.  From the outside it seems to be everything Mark has yearned for, however having not been given permission to cross the threshold of the club stairway,  he soon realises he is not friends with the Winklevoss twins, neither has he been accepted into a ‘final club’. Following this first meeting despite much correspondence from the twins to Zuckerberg, Mark does not continue this new business partnership but instead steals their idea (or more kindly, alters it to his own specifications) and ultimately creates  what many now enjoy and have indeed come addicted to as Facebook.

The main body of the film is a game of catch between the memories of Facebook’s beginning and the court case around Facebook’s conception. throughout the film and particularly during the storytelling of Facebook’s past, as a viewer you are struck by the irony of a man who created the world’s largest and most exclusive ‘friendship club’ and yet who has so few friends.

Mark Zuckerberg comes across as a man with a chip on his shoulder, drowning in the belief that life has dealt him a hard hand. It is ultimately this chip on his shoulder that leads him to weaken against the jealousy that enrages him. All in all, the film left me with a bad taste in my mouth and an increasing resentment of watching my life played before me across the pages of Facebook. It was somewhat alarming that no matter how many million of dollars he paid in compensation to the Winklevoss twins and even his once best friend: Eduardo Saverin,  it was to quote the film: ‘in the scheme of things, a speeding ticket.’

The film is worth watching, particularly if you want to gauge an understanding of human nature. The need for approval and acceptance. Mark Zuckerberg may well be the youngest billionaire in the world, but I wonder whether  it was worth losing his integrity and honesty to get there. The somewhat frightening thing is that we can all relate to Zuckerberg in this film. Our lives are fast becoming valued upon our popularity on Facebook and how many friends we have listed on our profile.

I did not particularly enjoy the film, mostly due to it touching a raw nerve, uncovering the desire in myself to be accepted.  Mark Zuckerberg comes across in a bad light, a backstabber, arrogant, jealous and obsessed individual. He originally founded Facebook in an attempt to improve his image after the rant he published over the Internet after the break up with Albright. In my mind, it’s a shame that The Social Network has now diminished Juckerberg’s work in enhancing his reputation.

The film touches on principles, principles of ‘Harvard gentlemen’, principles of friendship, principles of honesty. It is such a shame that an enterprise so potentially great should be marred by such a betrayal of these principles.


7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Barry Glibb
    Nov 04, 2010 @ 14:14:14

    It is such a shame that an enterprise so potentially great should be marred by such a betrayal of these principles.

    Power corrupts us, we are all prone to it, but especially at certain ages we are more prone to such suggestion (like the college days). I really enjoyed this film, even the portrayal of Zuckerberg’s painful and awkward moments, but it might also be that I have many years between experiencing my own painful and awkward moments of that time period!


  2. alphabetgames
    Nov 04, 2010 @ 14:58:20

    Thank you for your comment, Barry. all in all, I enjoyed the film more so for the insight into human nature than anything else. I actually feel sorry for Mark Zuckerberg because the film shows he was corrupted by power, before he even began to enjoy the taste. Thinking about it, it’s actually a scary film – it could have happened to any one of us!


  3. Ruby slippers
    Nov 04, 2010 @ 21:33:11

    I haven’t seen the film but as you know I am against Facebook. Having been a member of that ‘club’ for a while I discovered it was a false world. Everyone trying to make themselves look better than the next person. A pressure to have loads of people on your list of friends. Half of which are people you don’t really like but having them on your list makes you look more ‘popular’.

    Then there’s all the misunderstandings that happen when things are written without meaning to cause conflict but they come across wrong. Lost in written translation and so forth.

    I am out of that world now and have no desire to return to it ever again!


    • alphabetgames
      Nov 04, 2010 @ 23:08:04

      You are completely correct, in fact an enterprise that was designed to bring people closer together has only torn them apart. No one is themselves on Facebook, something I have witnessed through messages and ‘profiles’ of my family and friends. People no longer pick up a phone or ring a doorbell. They tap keys on a keyboard, staring at a screen. Facebook may have over 500 million members worldwide, but tonight it is down to 499 million.

      I am going to stand by my principles. I no longer want to be a member of the most ‘exclusive’ club in the world, I too withdraw from the ‘club’.


  4. PJ
    Nov 04, 2010 @ 23:30:37

    I personally don’t use Facebook that frantically but like the interactions and possibilities. I feel bad for the way majority of people are using it. I’m sure there ate bigger and better potential for the social media. I remember how Orkut once used to be very popular but then people lost interest. Maybe its all some sort of fashion. I’m happy though that I have experienced it and I still admire the intelligence behind this ‘tool’!


  5. Barry Glibb
    Nov 05, 2010 @ 13:50:31

    Technology is just a tool, what people do with it has always been chided, scrutinized, and judged. When the phone gained popularity, people complained that no one visited in person anymore. Communication is communication, and how we communicate has always been malleable and evolving.


  6. Trackback: Social Media: Curse or Cure? « Alphabet Games

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