‘The Social Network’ – I Enjoyed It

We went to see The Social Network yesterday, and I recommend you go and see it as well. Not because it’s the greatest film ever, or because it gives a unique insight into what it was about, but because I enjoyed it and would like you to as well.

Jesse Eisenberg was excellent, aloof and purse-lipped one minute, verbally machine-gunning the next, glowering the rest of the time. His growing rage at not being included was reflected in Trent Reznor’s simmering “growing rage” theme, which was revisited at key points through the movie. The script and performance made you feel sorry for Zuckerberg even as you thought he was an asshole. He went from being dumped, to lashing out, to being infamous, then sought after, then successful, then famous, then sued, then finally alone, trying to “friend” the girl that dumped him.

Whether all that has anything to do with real life, based as it was on a book, based on a true story, who knows. The regular statement at the end of the credits (Cassie’s a credit-watcher and she’s taught me a lot about what to look out for) about “any similarity purely coincidental” was replaced with a much longer and more convoluted paragraph.

The key quote of the film for me was from Eisenberg, “If you’re the founders of Facebook then you would have founded Facebook”. His repeated defense that he didn’t use any of the code from the project he had been asked to work on was a little thin – code is one thing, ideas are another, although the idea the twins had was basically “Exclusive Friendster”.

I enjoyed the first “hacking” scene, showing MZ bashing away on his Linux box (was that KDE 2?) while the exclusive final clubs bussed in girls to frolic with. I was pleased to recognize and almost follow what he did to gather the photos needed to create the bitter kneejerk facemash.com.

We didn’t realise the part of the Winkelvoss twins was played by one actor – a testament to the digital trickery used to double him up. The trendy tilt-shift photography in Henley was a nice touch. I used to live in Marlow, just down the river from there, but I’m afraid my lifestyle was not that of the characters. I lived in a room that used to be a garage, off the back of a Post Office, with the lock facing the wrong way so I had to leave the key in the lock otherwise I was locked in my room.

As for Facebook in real life, I joined when it opened up to large US businesses, shortly before it opened up to anyone. I am wary about the privacy issues surrounding it. The Electronic Frontier Foundation in the US, and the Open Rights Group in the UK (same color scheme, similar work, vastly different size) have a lot to say about it, as do many tech rights bloggers. I’ve been able to contact many old friends and acquaintances through the site, but I wish I could take them by the virtual hand and show them the open web. I’ve been downscaling my presence on there, but I’m not yet ready to quit.

Come Sunday evening, I was washing up after a lovely dinner of fresh pesto pasta and cranberry juice, and I heard Cassie watching The IT Crowd, so I took a rest and watched, and it was the FriendFace episode, imagine that.

There were three of us at the Sundance Kabuki. My old theater pal Kristen is in town, and I’m happy to be back in contact after a gap of over two years, fuelled partly by an unnoticed Facebook friend drop glitch. When we rely on these tools too much, we can end up ignoring or excluding (deliberately or not) friends not on the network, and when we read too much into the way people apply the mechanisms these tool provide, the real social network can suffer.