Friday, November 12, 2010

Some Thoughts on The Social Network

"You are who you was when you got here."- Jay-Z

I finally succumbed and went to see The Social Network.

One of the reasons I wasn't particularly interested in seeing the movie is that I don't get Facebook. I don't have a personal one, I didn't have a Myspace, and I still don't really understand the desire to see what's going on with 200 people I barely know or went to school with.

Having said that...

The Social Network is really good. It raises some interesting questions about what "cool" is, social hierarchies, and the lengths to which guys will go to try to impress girls.

Let's address these issues one at a time:

What is cool?

Obviously as a dating coach/pua/amateur psychologist I spend a lot of time thinking about what makes someone or something "cool." This whole movie and Facebook's early business plan were based on the idea that if something is "cool" it can eventually become profitable.

The movie also addresses the relationship between something being "cool" and being exclusive. Initially access to Facebook was restricted to those with a email address.

Which brings up a larger point. The vast majority of people cannot be cool. There's some study that says something like 1 out of every 6 people considers themselves to be "cool."

Which means there's something like a BILLION people who think they're cool. Generally if a billion people think they're all something, it's not going to be a good thing.

Mark Zuckerberg is not cool.

And throughout the movie this point is beaten home again and again. Starting with the amazing opening speech from the girl who inspired Facebook, and culminating in the scene where the twins finally decide they are going to sue him and the nicer one screams out " Let's gut the friggin nerd."

No matter how much he accomplishes, no matter how much money he makes, no matter how successful he becomes, the World will always see Mark Zuckerberg as a nerd.

To me this was an underrated factor in the business behind all of this as Zuckerberg was so focused on keeping Facebook "cool" that he made some questionable personal and professional decisions.

Social Hierarchies- Social Hierarchies are for lack of a better word pecking orders. There are people at the top, in the middle, and on the bottom. People on top are more valuable than those in the middle and so on and so forth.

In the movie the Winklevoss twins represent the "Haves" that group of people who have it all. They're tall, good looking, Harvard men, who row crew and come from a very wealthy and powerful family.

Mark Zuckerberg represents the "Have Nots". Zuckerberg is a nobody who desperately wants to get invited into a secret "Final club".

Director David Fincher does an excellent job of juxtaposing scenes from the first party at one of these secret clubs, with the night Zuckerberg gets drunk and puts up the site that would become Facebook. On one hand we see a bunch of young overpriviledged, popular kids partying it up with rapidly disrobing girls. While in the next scene we watch Zuckerberg describe how he hacks his way into various Harvard related sites.

In a way this idea of hierarchies is related to the idea of "cool." Mark is an outsider and in an attempt to both impress these secret clubs and show up a girl, he created Facebook, which made him rich and famous beyond his wildest dreams.

But he's still an outsider.

The most stunning scene to me happens late in the movie when Rashida Jones who plays an assistant lawyer on Mark's legal team tells him they're going to have to settle. She says something like when a jury looks at you and looks at the Winklevoss' there going to believe you stole their idea, so pay them and it becomes a speeding ticket on the way to where you're going.

While on one hand this can be interpreted as a win for Mark, he still had to pay out something like $65 million dollars because he doesn't look or come across the "right" way to a jury. Which if you strip away all the lawyer speak and drama basically means that juries tend to believe the better looking, more socially put together people over the socially awkward nerd who may happen to be right...

And lastly the lengths to which guys will go to impress girls. I kinda touched on this earlier so to re-cap briefly for those who aren't familiar with the story of the movie ( Not reality as I know many things were changed for the film). Mark creates the site that eventually becomes Facebook after his girlfriend at the time Erica dumps him. Fast forward through the movie and we come to the final scene where Mark sits alone at his computer after being told that he is going to have to settle both lawsuits, and sends a friend request to the same Erica girl.

Now whether or not this actually happened in reality, the point is a salient one. No amount of success, material objects, or sex can fill the holes inside of you. After the newness wears off, we are often left the same person we were when we started out.

While the social hierarchies of the US may not be as rigid as the Caste system of India, we are still trapped by the views, opinions and institutions around us, which more often than we'd like to admit, tell us who we are.



  1. Anonymous9:19 PM

    glad to see posts not necessarily related to pickup but somewhat applicable. Good read keep them coming!

  2. OMFG this post it's like a Sociology paper.

    "While the social hierarchies of the US may not be as rigid as the Caste system of India, we are still trapped by the views, opinions and institutions around us, which more often than we'd like to admit, tell us who we are."

    We, "as social beings", are determinated by the relationships and the society where we belong.

    Keep on Sinn.

  3. Anonymous9:29 AM

    go get a psychology phd sinn. this post is the exact reason I keep coming back to your blog. excellent.

  4. Great movie... and great insights.

    Yea, the scene at the end was sort of chilling... kind of like in a Great Gatsby sort of way...

    Him sitting there refreshing his facebook page to keep checking if she accepted his friend request totally captured the notion that no matter how rich and powerful you become.. you're still yourself..

  5. Anonymous12:00 PM


    Great post. Maybe your best ever. There actually a degree of Mark Zuckerberg in all of us. You really should pursue some kind of psychology type degree - Dr. Sinn!

  6. Anonymous3:34 PM

    Coming from your previous posts, people's comments and your videos: I have to say it is great to have someone like you where we can count on in many parts in life. We create our own lives, however, get f.cked over by things that happened to us in the past. Trying to do something else won't change that. But we can change ourselves to make us accepted by ourselves, and no one else. I'm very sloppy with my ideas when I write them down, or try to speak it out loud, but I hope you all understand what I'm saying and where I'm coming from.

    Thanks again Sinn. Great thoughts.

  7. Jon I think I just read your best blog post ever. Your writing has improved immensely. Keep it up man, great insights.

  8. Anonymous7:22 AM

    That TSN has made about $US 155 mill around the world is surprising, as the concept of the film seems like it was more suited to a cable TV movie, hence why I'll wait to see it on cable, as I doubt seeing it on a big screen will make much difference.

  9. Damn you are one smart cookie, Sinn.

  10. Anonymous2:18 PM

    ALL HAIL Captain Jack

  11. In order to be content with the world around us, we must first change the universe that is ourselves.

  12. Antoine8:59 AM

    A lot of "change" we feel during our personal journey is just really distracting newness. After it boils down the changes are small.
    I've been monkey dancing for a while then found some balance, but I will forever be an introvert on psychology tests, i learnt that it's not so bad though.
    You can improve skills and self esteem, what you are doesn't change much.

  13. The movie is real statement on what this generation is going through and how the way we communicate has changed

  14. Jon,
    This is the most insightful review of that movie I've seen so far. Excellent.

    Btw, if you ever swing by Singapore, you can party with Saverin in VIP here ;-)

  15. Anonymous4:26 PM

    Just on the 'Facebook' thing. I used to never 'get' Facebook either, but really it's just what you make of it yourself. I have somewhere around 30 friends on Facebook and I personally know every one of them. It lets you keep in touch in an easy way esp. when people are in different countries. The whole 'friends with people from school' thing I don't get, hence why the only people I'm 'friends' with are those I could really give a shit about.

    It's just a big version of MSN to me, with the added advantage that more people I actually know in real life use it.