Facebook Movie Feels Virtually Real

Facebook Movie Feels Virtually Real

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After seeing the new film The Social Network many people probably see Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg as a corporate, soulless, abrasive, but super-intelligent creep.

But believe it or not, Zuckerberg’s portrayal reminded me a lot of the young people I’ve met from high school and college. They appear to be self-centered know-it-alls, but some of us are actually legit and have the chops to back it up.

Like Zuckerberg, we all crave being a part of something.

That is very apparent in the film’s opening when Zuckerberg is discussing one of the famed, exclusive Harvard clubs. In that particular time of life, where you’re searching for an identity of your own, you look towards other people, cliques, clubs or anything social that could makes you feel as if you’ve crossed over into the in-crowd.

Zuckerberg created Facebook to mirror his experience with the elite exclusivity of Harvard. The social identity of a confused, hormonal teenager is complicated enough without introducing the idea of privilege, exclusivity and social hierarchy.

It didn’t just happen at Harvard. When I was a student at San Francisco City College, I felt really pathetic because I wasn’t at a California state university or University of California campus an impressive e-mail address.

Facebook, in some ways is the great leveler. You can be on it no matter where you are from or where you go to school, and it will suck up hours of your day with status updates and viral videos.

As a regular Facebook visitor, I found a lot to think about in the movie in terms of my own real-time personality and my social networking personality. It made me very paranoid when I began to wonder if I too was like Zuckerberg. Did I have less than a handful of actual friends in the real world and a slew of fake friends on Facebook?

I have 193 Facebook friends. It’s a modest count, but I can’t even count 10 people I would want to call on a regular basis.

If it weren’t out of guilt or obligation, I probably wouldn’t have added half of the people I’m friends with on Facebook. I know you, but am I okay with you reading my random update about dancing at a club all night? Not really.

The film also made me think about how I act in the social networking world. Am I all out there with my business, or do I keep a fine line between the private-personal and public-personal?

I admit it. I do like to put my business out there on Facebook. There will be those spilt-seconds when I’m boiling over something, and the place where I feel I can scream my lungs out is on my Facebook profile. It is an addictive experience, not necessarily healthy, but it gives an outlet nonetheless.

Zuckerberg’s whole mission was to get so popular through Facebook that it was almost as if he didn’t need real friends. You’re just the cool guy who created this free website that everyone wants to be on. It’s almost like the guy who buys everyone drinks for the first round at the bar to apply some social lubrication to the moment.

In the Zucker-dome, everything is free, fast, cool and digital – which pretty much sums up the overall college identity.

Facebook and The Social Network are all about the vanity of one’s identity. It’s an aspect that Zuckerberg defines by trying to look good in the eyes of his peers.

But at the close of the movie--without giving away any spoilers--did Zuckerberg attain a shred of the social popularity he seemed to desire at Harvard? The man has a total of 877,158 friends/fans on Facebook today. If virtual friends fill the void of an actual friendship, then maybe Zuckerberg has cracked the Da Vinci code on this one.

But I have to ask -- how many of these supposed friends would Zuckerberg reach out to after he got his heart broken? How many could he call up to go to the movies on a Saturday night?

If there’s one point to walk away with from this movie, it is that it doesn’t matter if you’ve founded the hottest social network on the planet. If the only person who is asking you what’s on your mind is that giant white text box online – you might want to consider making some serious life changes – none of them involving the Internet.