Home > Business, Editorial > Portrait of an Asshole: A Review of “The Social Network”

Portrait of an Asshole: A Review of “The Social Network”

“You’re going to be successful, and rich. But you’re going to go through life thinking that girls don’t like you because you’re a geek. And I want you to know, from the bottom of my heart, that that won’t be true. It’ll be because you’re an asshole.”
“You’re not an asshole. You’re just trying really hard to be one”

Mark Zuckerberg & Facebook are product’s of its time. Zuckerberg is a general asshole of a genius who at the start of the movie only has one real friend in his life, since everybody else just doesn’t want to deal with his assholishness, but creates a portal of openness. He’s cold, calculating, self-important, aggrandizing and seemingly hollow figure that’s cynical nature also gives Facebook its heart and soul. Who’s with who? Who’s having sex with who? Who’s in what exclusive clubs? Who’s important? This is what college is all about for Mark, and eventually it becomes an extension for the world. It’s this seeming clash that makes Facebook the hollow system that it is. It can bring people together, but it can only bring them so far apart.

Zuckerberg supposedly creates the genesis of Facebook to get over a break-up with his girlfriend who is responsible for the first quote above. He eventually creates a website to aid in the connection of people, but all throughout the movie and the creation of this website, he can’t connect to his old flame whom he seemingly still can’t get over. He tries to confront her face to face when he sees her in a restaurant after he’s just had sex with a “groupie,” but she’ll have none of him. Referring to the unkind rantings he blogged about her post-breakup, she says “The internet’s written in ink, Mark. It’s not written in pencil.”

This is something Mark never clearly learned, or can’t find anything to do about it, since his site plays host to the repercussions to this all the time. A mother will list her relationship status as single, to which her college kid son will reply, “You and dad divorced?” To which the mother will reply, “I forgot to mention that to you.” A worker will post something about how she hates her job and her boss, to which the boss will reply that she’s fired. Do a search, or ask your friends, and you’ll come up with several, if not hundreds of true stories just like these. Lives out in the open to fuel our petty scrabbles as human beings. Not to mention the breaches in privacy the company is still fighting today in order to keep the public’s trust.

But back to the girl. Later, when talking to Sean Parker about how he started Napster, he says he created the service in order to impress a girl because she was into another guy. Zuckerberg, clearly feeling like he can relate in the back of his mind inquires about whatever happened to the girl. Judging by Parker’s non-response, nothing ever came of it. Still, even after the creation of the company, after all the testimonies and lawsuits are hurled against him, he still thinks about her. Sure, it’s been at least a couple of years since they last talked, but Zuckerberg still wants to connect, so he searches his own site, one that she didn’t even know of when they had last talked, and finds her. He looks at it, then after some hesitating and contemplation, he friends her. Perhaps in a gesture that he wants to be a better person after hearing others talk about how terrible he is. Maybe he still deep down loves/likes her. Or maybe he just wants connection, when he’s just lost his last connection. Again, ironic for a man that invented the biggest connection machine. And again ironic that he uses his own invention to try to connect with her. Sitting alone in room with his laptop, he refreshes the page, hoping for a responce on his friend request. Waiting a few seconds, then refreshing. Waiting a few seconds, then refreshing again. This is the last shot of the film, and as such, means it has a lot more significance to the character of Zuckerberg than some seem to be giving it credit for.

Others would say it’s more about Zuckerberg, and that last connection. His only friend Eduardo. Eduardo repersents two things in the film. Of course, there’s his friendship and loyalty to Zuckerberg, but there’s also what he represents to the business world. You see, this is the Internet generation. Zuckerberg is naturally equipped for this, knowing how to create, build, and better the business. But Zuckerberg isn’t rich so he relys on the help of his best friend, Eduardo and his thousands to help start and run the company. Since Eduardo is the financial backer of the company and basic CFO at the start of the company, he’s listed as the co-founder, a title which he now retains. But his usefulness soon runs out. Eduardo starts holding the company back. He gives it bad publicity with the forced canibalization of a chicken, and then he starts getting in the way financially.

You see, Eduardo repersents the old way of how business was done. He goes to New York City and he tries to lure advirtisors into their venture. He feels that to make money, the company needs to do it with pop-ups, banner ads and other such common money generators. But not in the Internet world. No, in the internet you need to grow your company first. Ads just turn people off from your product. You can’t do that when you’re trying to grow people, you do that when you’re sustainable. Amazon.com didn’t turn a profit for years as they established a market foothold as a place for quality, but affordable books and other items. But you still need money, and that’s where venture capitalists come in. In this case, it was a Paypal co-founder that gave half a million to start Facebook. In that way, the website is an investment for a rich guy looking to get a stock in the company in hopes that it makes it big, and makes all that money back ten-fold. That’s how business is done in Silicon Valley. Sure, Eduardo may be a business major, but he’s not equipped for this new world, holds the company down, thus forcing Zuckerberg to force Eduardo out for the good of the company. Did then-president Sean Parker handle Eduardo’s termination too harshly, thus letting him feel like he was being screwed over? Yes, and Zuckerberg thought so also, but he’s also a cold and calculating and no near-ready at any point in the movie to really make a hand towards reconciliation with his old friend. Eduardo is simply a regret. A regret that just happens to be worth 1.1 billion dollars today.

Compare this to the story of Dustin Moskovitz, who in the movie is played by the boy from the first Jurassic Park movie. He also co-founded Facebook, but is shown diligently working for the company throughout the whole movie, is currently worth more than Eduardo, and left on peaceful terms with the company to create his own. On his departure, Zuckerberg said, “Dustin has always had Facebook’s best interest at heart and will always be someone I turn to for advice.” That statement makes it pretty clear. Dustin always had Facebook’s best interest at heart, aka, he always followed Zuckerberg and made himself useful.

In the end, I don’t know what the real Mark Zuckerberg is like, or how much of the movie is true beyond the basic happenings and timeline. Maybe the real Zuckerberg has a ton of real friends and treats every one of them with respect, and Eduardo and those other guys just took it upon themselves to piggy-back and therefore slander the guy. Point is, the film is a great character study that goes a lot deeper than I’ve even gone. The acting is pitch-perfect, the dialogue is lightning fast and delivered naturally, the pacing is excellent, the comedy is both inspired and keeps you on your feet, and most of all, it makes you care about the characters. The Social Network is certainly worth your thought, time & your money.

5 out of 5 Stars

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