Posted on February 26, 2011
The Social Network (2010)
Reviewed by Mister Critic
To me, the Social Network plays as your classic Greek tragic myth, which is why it deserves the nod for Best Picture. The god, Mark Zuckerburg (played by Jesse Eisenberg), is portrayed in the movie as a socially inept computer genius who creates for us lowly human beings the now billion dollar social networking website, Facebook. In the process of sharing his gift with world, that gift of cyber-friendship, he destroys his own relationships. And Facebook has forever changed the way we interact socially. Well, maybe I’m overstating it a bit.
Facebook has redefined the word “friend.” Prior to Facebook, being a friend took both effort to reach that status and effort maintain the friendship. Now one can just request to be my friend. It is like grade school all over again. “Hey, wanna be my friend?” “Sure.” We’re friends!” What now? Now we friend someone at the click of a button, mainly to look at their photos, see what they do for job and we never have to talk. And best of all, we can ignore our friend when they start to bug us about Farmville or some other obnoxious request.
At first, I was very hesitant to add “friends.” I would ask myself, is this person really my friend? Have we hung out lately? Do we have a mutual respect for each other? Do they really care enough to receive these status updates? Does this person who I talked to once in highschool really care that I’m having bad day? But now, it doesn’t matter. Bring them on. Because I know, in the end, it’s just as easy to “unfriend” as it is to friend.
Today we are overloaded by information on the Internet. Information is available at the speed of gigabytes. And Facebook is the best place to get overloaded. Want a funny video, a debate, some pics of cats? All on Facebook. All of that would be okay if it was just between a couple people, but now everyone is doing it. The internet has become like a lobby where people are shouting: LOOK WHAT I CAN DO! I’m having a great day! I just ate this wonderful food! I’m standing in line at the store! And shouldn’t I be happy for them? Because they are my friends after all, right? But it has gotten to the point where when one friend meets another friend in the real world, there is no need to ask questions about their respective lives because they’ve read it all on Facebook. Or that’s what we think. So instead when we’re together, we spend time checking Facebook on our Iphone.
And on the flip-side, there are those that post content on Facebook and watch as other people’s posts are celebrated and adored by the on-line community while their own content drifts in to oblivion with no comments and no love. It makes one begin to wonder why no one has “liked” my content? Do you hate me? Do you hate my children? Am I not funny? Am I posting too much? No, the answer has to be I haven’t posted enough, right? Why is a computer program making me question my relationships with other people?
The tragedy is that we think we are making social connections when perhaps we are actually driving each other further apart. Sometimes intentionally pushing people away with snarky comments in response to someone’s political view. Sometimes unintentionally, just being oblivious to what impact our words have on others. How can social networking make me feel so socially disconnected? And the question I had at the end of the movie was: “Was this intentional?” In the world of mythology, there are trickster gods who like to stir up trouble for the common man. Is that what Facebook was created to do? If Zuckerberg couldn’t be a part of social clubs and felt alienated, did he create this program so the rest of us would feel the same? Or is that just the inevitable part of human nature.
The trailer for the movie, posted below, is in and of itself a work of art, speaking directly to this culture change. The song is Creep by Radiohead, performed beautifully by the group Scala. This song is the theme song for my youth and perhaps my generation. It embodies everything I felt growing up and continue to feel today. “I want you to notice when I’m not around….I wish I was special…but I’m a creep.” We all want to be noticed, but in today’s world how do we stand out? What lengths do we have to go to be special? And maybe it all comes down to reexamining what it means to be a “friend.”