"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 Harvard.edu 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.