Lonely with 500 million friends

Carly Findlay
The Social Network is an interesting movie. It is based on the history of Facebook. It shows how the creator of Facebook became very rich yet lost his friends. Not all of the film is true. But it is a film that will make you think. The film made me think about how social networks are not any different to real life. You need to treat people well. I also realised any anything is possible if you put your mind to it.
Posted by: 
Carly Findlay on 25/03/2011
A shot from the film with Mark Zuckerberg working on a computer with a pen in his mouth while a friend leans over and looks at the screen.

Zuckerberg is portrayed as socially inept, apathetic and preoccupied

The Social Network is one of the most interesting movies released recently. It is based on the creation of Facebook and how programmer Mark Zuckerberg became the world’s youngest billionaire.

The film is a mixture of fact and fiction. It’s often difficult to differentiate between the two. But it is certainly a movie to make you think about topics like success and relationships.

Hugely successful

The tagline of the movie is You don't get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies. Zuckerberg was a lonely guy with a handful of friends before he generated the Facebook phenomenon. He lost even the few friends he had as Facebook became hugely successful.

Zuckerberg is portrayed as socially inept, apathetic and preoccupied with programming. While he shuffles around Harvard University in a hoodie, jeans, sandals and socks, he uses conversations to inspire ideas for Facebook.

Susceptible to influence

The movie suggests that Zuckerberg’s social shortcomings made him susceptible to influence by Sean Parker, the creator of Napster. It was the gregarious Parker that seemed to encourage Zuckerberg to turn on his friends. Zuckerberg is also portrayed as obsessed by elite Harvard clubs. Developing Facebook gave him the notoriety he seemed to crave.

My favourite line of the movie was from the film’s first scene. Zuckerberg is dumped by his girlfriend in a bar. You're going to go through life thinking that girls don't like you because you're a nerd, she says. I want you to know, from the bottom of my heart, that that won't be true. It'll be because you're an a***hole. The line was pertinent through many scenes in the movie, right to the end. The film ends with a seemingly lonely Zuckerberg sending a Facebook friend request to his former girlfriend.

A popularity contest

The movie made me think about how social networks aren't separate to one's “real life”. Both often seem like a popularity contest. Elitism is also rife. The term Facebook me easily slotted into peoples' vocabulary within weeks of Facebook's launch.

The film also reiterated about the importance of being discreet online. After Zuckerberg was dumped he wrote disrespectful comments about his former girlfriend on his blog. When he tried to apologise some months later, she reminded him that content on the internet is not written in erasable pencil. I was reminded to be nice to people. Treat them well. Nastiness and deceit will come back to haunt you.

Biggest realisation

The biggest realisation I had during the movie was that anything is possible if you put your mind to it. Facebook started off as a small university website. It now has more than 500 million users world-wide. The uptake has been astonishing. I now wonder whether there will be another thing in my lifetime that becomes so popular so fast?

The Social Network is out now on DVD.

Readers comments (2)

Awesome article Carly. Couldn't agree more.

I felt kind of sorry for him at the end refreshing to see if that girl had accepted his friend request. Everyone has the same insecurities don't they. xx Bern

While I haven't seen this movie, it sounds so interesting that i might get it out on DVD. I have mixed feelings about social networking. For as long as I can remember, I have simply wanted to belong. I thought joining Facebook would be my opportunity to do just that. While I am addicted to Facebook and games like Farmville, it hasn't been all smooth sailing.

A friend of mine has been trying to drum into me that online chats and friendships are NOT REAL. I find that hard to believe. She says unless you have met and touched these people in real life then online contact is not real. No one can really know the real you, and you can't know the real them.

She is right because communication takes an intricate array of senses to form balanced conversations and relationships. We need our eyes, ears, facial expressions and body language to interpret every word we utter online.

So while modern 'social networking' type of technology is mind blowing and a fantastic avenue for business, worldwide communication and people who are isolated, I would never trade face to face interaction for a second.

I feel that to belong in this modern era still requires that human touch like you discussed in your other article Carly.

Great outline of this film, Carly.

Comment on this article